With the regular season basically over, it’s time to talk about the end of season awards. Right now, it seems like the MVP is a two-man race between Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James. But the one player that no one is considering, the one and only, Outback Jesus himself, Matthew Dellavedova.
One thing that is easy to forget is what the MVP award is. It’s not the best player award, it’s not who had the best stats, it’s the player who is the most valuable player for their team. So, someone who simply puts up great stats isn’t as deserving of the award as someone who elevates their team’s chances of winning.
So does Dellavedova really benefit the Cavs? Yes! Dellavedova provides the Cavs with the amazing intensity, hustle, grit, playmaking, leadership, and chemistry needed. With the Cavs two main guards being score first, spreading the ball was a key issue for the team. So when Dellavedova got subbed in, he provided the bigs with a new spark of energy, getting them more touches and more opportunities. His teammates recognized this, and a good example of this was when Andre Drummond spoke about Dellavedova saying he “runs the offense very well”, “gets everybody right in their spots”, is “a great defender”, “loves playing with him”, etc. This is all while Lebron James’ teammates are merely pretending to put a crown on him.
There are actual stats to back up this claim. When Dellavedova was off the court, the Cavs had a net rating of -10.7, which was bad enough for dead last in the NBA. Once Dellavedova stepped on the court, it was a completely different story. The Cavaliers jumped up to -1.2, which would rank them sixteenth in the entire league. In total, Dellavedova’s difference on-and-off the court was 9.5. To put that into perspective, Lebron James has a difference of 11.7 and Giannis Antetokounmpo has a difference of 12.0. And this was all while playing a mere 14.4 minutes a game! Looking at his Per 36 stats, Dellavedova put up a staggering eight points and eight assists a game! And when comparing his assist stats to Russell Westbrook, it is clear who the better playmaker is. When looking at Per-100-Possession stats, Dellavedova averages 1.6 more assists (10.7 to 9.1) while getting 2.2 fewer turnovers! If that isn’t enough, Dellavedova again beats an All-Star point-guard in Chris Paul in assists while averaging the same amount of turnovers. Though his shooting percentages were low, that was an effect of Dellavedova taking a very few shots, since he put the team scoring ahead of his own.
In spite of Dellavedova’s best efforts, the Cavs record and lack of support for the star point guard may cause him to get snubbed of the well-deserved award. This probably won’t bother him at all, since he puts the team’s success ahead of his own, which is a key reason he is as beneficial as he is.