The Bucks are slightly exceeding expectation early in the season with their 5-7 record, much to the credit of the team’s two young stars, Giannis and Jabari. As evident through the first twelve games, the team needs both players to play well to be in a position to win the game. Consistency will be key if the Bucks have any hopes of sneaking into the playoffs this season, or even just play competitive ball for the whole season. No one, perhaps not even the coaching staff, has more ability to get the two young studs to play consistently than Matthew Dellavedova. Dellavedova provides the voice the young Bucks need to prepare for better days, and yeah that’s a bit less catchy than Own the Future, but Katy Perry’s Firework got old after a day or two, no?
Delly was signed to help this team establish its identity. Even the most talented teams need a culture built around hard work and love for your craft, and in my opinion hate for others. Delly just learned exactly what it takes for a team to win an NBA championship, with the added plus of learning to do it playing off guard to an incredibly talented wing. No adjustment necessary to let Giannis handle the primary load on offense as he tries to slow down the opposing teams’ point guard. He also has the most playoff experience of anyone on our team excluding Jason Terry, who I would not expect to stick around Milwaukee for the years Delly shall. Matthew Dellavedova will hold our young players mentally accountable, like only a well-liked experienced player can. His end game is winning, and that could be a great influence to our young team. He’s not asking to dominate the ball or take the big shot, he’s just trying to help his team. Many of Delly’s intangibles may be over stated, it’s still too early to tell exactly how productive a Buck he’ll turn into, but he has a history of playing winning basketball.
Whether it be St. Mary’s (CA) or the Cleveland Cavaliers, he has embraced his role knowing it was the best thing for his team. Not all back up point guards will fight so consistently on the floor, last season he was benched after his impressive Finals performance the previous year. Even though his minutes had shrunk to the point he may not see action at all and he knew his time in Cleveland was up, when he got an opportunity he played as hard as he could. He gets in the face of whoever he guards, and does everything in his power to do his job. Now, he has physical limitations, so it’s not always going to go his way, but it’s incredibly important for the culture the team is trying to implement to have players willing to do whatever they can and see if you can pull it out.
Every team in the league wants their culture to represent a team that plays hard and plays unselfishly, even if that’s knowing that a player taking over is in the best interest of the team. Sometimes the unselfish move is to dominant. When it’s time for your star player to take over, his teammates need to be his hero by helping him get into a position to succeed so he can be the team’s hero. Dellavedova is great at helping a hero out. So far this season, he’s been the bridge to getting the ball from Jabari to Giannis in the same possession, so if Giannis brings the ball up the floor and attempts to drive, finding nothing, he passes to Dellavedova who rotates the ball to the other side of the floor to put the ball into Jabari’s hands. If he doesn’t make the pass to Jabari himself, he dictates to whomever he passes the ball to that the ball needs to get to Jabari.
He has a full understanding of what gives us the best chance to win the game, putting the ball in the star’s hands, and playing off them the best he can. For instance, and I know everyone loves a good Michael Carter Williams comparison, during his tenure as a Buck, MCW was playing for himself a lot, or not understanding that the team was much better off playing through Giannis, Khris, and Jabari, then through him. It took away from our best player’s production. While Delly however will learn which areas of the floor those three like to attack from, and get them the ball in those areas. He has already influenced the offense, and I’m sure the coaching staff has done a better job this season at putting the players in the position that helps the team, but Delly helps them execute their plans on the floor. He’s pointing Tony Snell into the corner, he’s creating space on his drive to the hole for the lob pass to one of our many centers, and most importantly encourages his teammates to take open looks.
The offense isn’t always pretty or effective, but at least this season we have a point guard who helps us play with enough sense to feed Jabari and Giannis until the clock runs dry. I haven’t been nearly as annoyed by the team’s shot selection ten games into this season, things are running much more smoothly, even if it’s not going to necessarily show in the record column, and it very well might. I’m getting more and more excited about this team as the season progresses, and a large part of that is the consistency that Delly has brought to the starting lineup. If Khris Middleton comes back healthy next season, we have three dangerous scorers, and a point guard who can spot up shoot, set the tone on defense, and orchestrate the offense to get the ball into our best scoring opportunity. We will be competent, and that’s something our franchise needs to experience again, but this time around, it needs to last years and years. Dellavedova won’t be here for the entirety of the run, but he’s here to teach our core how to lead a competent team with players who know exactly what their role is to the team. Things look more organized, and that’s the first step for a talented team to turn the corner.