Zeljko Obradovic isn’t one to beat around the bush with his Fenerbahce players.
You may have heard that Boomer Matthew Dellavedova is on the verge of an NBA career. The Cleveland Cavaliers already have one Aussie born player, Kyrie Irving, and could potentially add another to their ranks next month with the young Victorian.
Imagine the possibilities.
NBA teams generally carry a group of guards on their 13-player rosters, but usually just three point guards, which the Cavs already have in Irving and veteran back-up Jarrett Jack.
So there is potentially a playmaker role up for grabs. That is unless King James decides to take his talents back to the icy shores of Lake Erie.
Hey, stranger things have happened. Like the game’s MVP furiously gyrating on the sideline. I’m not sure there’s another sport in the world where this sort of thing gets a free pass.
But back to the kid they call ‘Delly’.
You may have noticed he’s very useful at finding the open man. That’s one of the reasons he stood out at the recent summer league in Vegas.
He’s a true point guard, whereas even great passers like Irving and Jack, at times, favour shooting.
That’s okay. This is where basketball is right now, cluttered with more hybrids than a Los Angeles freeway.
For those who followed his career at St Mary’s University in northern California, or watched him play Patty Mills’ wingman at the London Games, you know the quiet confidence Delly has running the floor.
He, too, can adapt to either guard position but really looks good setting up others.
He tweeted about his training camp invite this week, noting that he’d signed to a partial guarantee, not a concrete deal.
He’ll potentially be a Cav for two years should all go well at camp, with the added bonus of $1.3 million in the bank.
Good work if you can get it.
Right now there are around 15 Cavs, which is the league maximum for a line-up, so a couple may be put to the sword, in a manner of speaking.
I think Delly makes the squad for a few reasons.
At last year’s Olympics, where he competed against NBA players in the US team, Spain and Brazil, his self-belief seemed to surge.
There are scores of college players who lack that type of big stage experience.
I also think Delly’s ability to deftly lead St Mary’s into the March Madness fray, the annual university knockout tournament, really built the foundations of the gutsy and relentless player the Cavs are currently assessing.
He’s seen an array of defences and has competed against all types of talent.
Certainly winning at the college level has long been the way to get your name mentioned in pro scout war rooms.
The other way, of course, is to be a genetic freak like James or Dwight Howard. Such players don’t require college time.
They could probably turn pro after puberty.
At any rate, when people take notice of a player from a small school on the American west coast, you can rest assured that player has done something right.
Six-four point guards are a dime a dozen in the US after all, and those lacking spring or supersonic speed, rarely get noticed.
Delly plays like he loves it and that’s still noteworthy.
To further his advantage, Dellavedova has also added some upper body muscle, as seen by a recent photo of him in The Age riding an exercise bike while training with the Boomers. Coupled with a sharper haircut, this is a new streamlined Delly.
He’s also an efficient floor general, in case you hadn’t noticed. Orchestrating an effective pick-and-roll for an offence, for example, is an art form, and one that many NBA guards regard as secondary to heaving up outside shots.
Dellavedova has mastered the move.
Above all else though, he’s a fierce competitor. You’d be surprised how much this impresses US coaches.
Delly has this going for him at the very least.
While questions about his foot speed have come up, Dellavedova plays tough defence. He’ll scrap and claw for the ball. If he doesn’t stay with his man, he’ll at least disrupt the player’s balance or redirect him.
I’ll take that over the guy who dawdles back to the half-way line trying to cherry pick.
Jack, for instance, doesn’t exactly inspire defensively. Now I’m not saying Delly can steal Jack’s spot as the primary back-up to Irving.
Jack is just so strong and stocky, and shoots a good three, it’s hard to see that happening.
No, if Delly does make the final roster, it’s because he works hard and the Cavs would like to see how he progresses.
He’s not flashy like Irving, or as athletic as Jack, or even as versatile as starting shooting guard Dion Waiters. But he does possess the rare ability to make his teammates better.
The idea of him and Irving in the backcourt together might be unlikely, but it’s fun to think about.