Cleveland Cavaliers: Matthew Dellavedova Epitomizes the ‘Believeland’ Mantra

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to be a championship contender for the foreseeable future; they are just 7-21 on the season and now seem to be doing all they can to unload veterans and acquire draft picks to jump-start their rebuilding process. Recently, though, as was touched on even before, the team has been playing better, and now Cleveland got one of their most beloved role players back. Last week, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded veteran George Hill to the Milwaukee Bucks, and one of the key pieces brought back in addition to future draft picks, was guard Matthew Dellavedova (the trade was initially reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst). “Delly” being back is huge for the Cavaliers, given his tenacity on the defensive end of the floor and solid second unit playmaking. Dellavedova is beloved in Cleveland, and he truly epitomizes the “Believeland” mantra.

What Dellavedova does goes beyond the box score, really. His career averages aren’t anything spectacular; he’s averaged 5.9 points on 39.1 percent shooting, 3.7 assists and 0.5 steals in 21.4 minutes per game in 343 career appearances. Delly is a quintessential “glue guy,” though, and for a team that’s going to struggle in the near future, his effort on both ends of the floor and team-first attitude goes a long way in setting an example for young players that need to develop, such as Collin Sexton.

Kevin Love touched on that recently, even calling Delly “a folk hero,” per’s Chris Fedor.

Larry Nance Jr. also praised the scrappy Australian point guard, who had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in Cleveland’s last win over the New York Knicks. At Quicken Loans Arena, he actually received MVP chants (obviously we know it’s a joke, but it still illustrates how much Northeast Ohio loves them some Delly).

This is what Nance had to say, again, per Fedor.

 “I was leading the MVP chants,” Nance told “Yeah, he deserved it. Good to see them rally behind him like that. It was awesome. It was cool to see the city rally behind him. Granted I was in L.A. but I was tuned into my Cavs while he was doing his thing here.”

Needless to say, Cleveland loves Delly, and he loves them back.

For a team that’s going to have its share of losses in the near future, at least for the remainder of this season and likely next year, Delly’s intangibles and style of rugged, physical play against opposing backcourts is something to count on a nightly basis. Spelling Sexton, Dellavedova could ignite Cleveland’s team and fan base in spurts.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will need to scratch and claw to accumulate wins over the next few seasons, and a player such as Matthew Dellavedova is somebody who’s always going to do that. In two postseason appearances with the Cavaliers, Delly stepped up in a huge way, and as many in Cleveland know, did a pretty good job against the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in the 2015 NBA Finals, in which Kyrie Irving was mostly injured.

Given that Delly’s contract is expiring after the 2019-2020 season (per Spotrac) and he’s already 28, it’s unclear as to whether or not he fits into Cleveland’s future plans. For the rest of this season and into next, though, the love affair will continue in Northeast Ohio with their gritty second unit playmaker. He’s not a player that’s going to ever threaten Sexton’s starting spot, but he could be useful as an off-ball option at times with Sexton running the point.

There’s nothing quite like the reaction from a Cleveland Cavaliers’ home crowd when there’s a “Delly Trey” going through the net off an open spot-up opportunity post-ball swing. Between both Sexton and Jordan Clarkson (along with Cedi Osman) playing roles as playmakers, Dellavedova’s career 38.8 percent three-point shooting should continue to come in handy.

When Love returns from a reported toe injury (which is likely mid-January, per The Athletic’s Joe Vardon) and Tristan Thompson comes back from a reported sprain foot (which is likely in the next two to four weeks per Wojnarowski), Cleveland could really get the best use out of Matthew Dellavedova’s pick-and-roll ball-handling. 

Lobs to Thompson should be prevalent from Dellavedova, and Nance will definitely reap the benefits from that as well. Those kinds of plays are something that the second unit has not had much of this year, and that would get the fan base and team going in a positive way. 

I still don’t believe Sexton should be sitting in favor of a Dellavedova-Jordan Clarkson backcourt in the closing stretches of tight games, but could Delly and Sexton be backcourt running mates in those situations? I would think so. 

Moreover, with an uncertain near future ahead in Cleveland, having an energy veteran and positive influence for Sexton in Dellavedova is nothing but a positive.

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