It was without doubt the most frustrating year of Delly’s five year career in the NBA, as the gritty point guard never quite got time to settle into his backup guard role with the Milwaukee Bucks. First, a knee injury in mid November had Dellavedova on the shelf for 15 games, which was at the time the longest stint on the sideline in his career.
After taking some time to round back into form, January was a fruitful month for Dellavedova, as he averaged 4.5 assists in that span. Just as he was getting back to his best, a severe ankle sprain in Brooklyn sidelined him for over two months and 29 games. Delly would return for the last game of the regular season in Philly, and become an impact player in the playoffs, especially in the Bucks bounce back Game 3 victory at the Bradley Center.
But all in all, it was a year he’d like to move on from rather quickly.
- The individual highlight that no Bucks fan will forget for a long, long time, came in Game 4 of Milwaukee’s first round series against the Boston Celtics. The Bucks were desperate for another victory to square the series up and in a typical ‘Playoff Delly’ moment, the Aussie provided the energy his team needed as time expired in the first quarter. After Khris Middleton duped two Celtic opponents with an up and under move to put the Bucks up by five with 1.2 seconds left, you assumed that would be it for scoring in that quarter. However, Marcus Morris inexplicably rolled the ball out to Shane Larkin, Delly swooped to scoop the ball up and float a shot over Morris’ outstretched arm. The Bucks went in up by seven, and you felt they were ready to take the game over. It was a truly special moment.
- I spoke earlier about Dellavedova’s assist number in January. In a particularly hot four game stretch spanning the New Year, he racked up 36 assists whilst committing only THREE turnovers. Even more impressive was the fact he did this in only 23 minutes per game. It was a solid reminder of his ability to run a steady, if not aesthetically beautiful offense.
- The injuries. There’s just no doubt about the fact that it limited his ability to get any type of momentum on the season, and robbed the Bucks of a key rotation member heading into the playoffs. In his previous four seasons in the NBA, Delly had played no fewer than 67 games, this season he could only muster 38. The lack of contribution through injury, coupled with his hefty price tag (4 years/38 million), left Bucks fans frustrated and wanting more. It was an extended lowlight for Delly, but an obvious one.
- On January 6th, Milwaukee travelled to Washington and came away with an impressive 110-103 road victory. Unfortunately for Delly, he watched the end of the game from the locker room after being ejected with 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. As Bradley Beal made a move to the rim in a transition opportunity, Dellavedova attempted to wrap up Beal in a standard foul situation. Due to Beal’s lowered stance and the force of his move, Dellavedova’s arm slipped high and he was ejected. It wasn’t malicious in any way, it was simply a guy getting ejected over past beliefs about his play. It was a disappointing end to the night for the Aussie, and a call that wouldn’t have been made had another player been in his position.
Grade for season: C-
It’s really hard to be too critical of a guy that was cut down by a string of unfortunate injuries. When he was on the floor, he was ok. His box score +/- of negative 5.9 paints a bleak picture but there’s just no doubt about the fact that Milwaukee missed his IQ and intangibles on the floor. He sets excellent screens, will scrap for loose balls and rebounds on a team that so often lacks desperation, and play execution is rarely a concern when he is on the floor. Unfortunately, his lack of athleticism and awkward delivery is a limitation that will always be in clear view.
Is the contract ugly? Sure. But there’s no doubt the Bucks are a better overall team with Dellavedova healthy, available and ready to contribute. Milwaukee missed Delly in 2017/18, and will be desperate for him to be back at his best next season.
Role next season:
Health permitting, Dellavedova will slot right back into his usual back up guard role. Likely play around 20 minutes a night, and provide defense, energy and some outside shooting. Of course, the Bucks may look to explore trade possibilities in an effort to provide some salary cap relief, but trading that contract wont be an easy feat.
With Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Delly all still on the books for next season, it’s easy to see the Bucks rolling that guard trio out one more time under a new coach and try their luck. You could certainly do much worse.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus