INDEPENDENCE: When the Cavaliers brought in Matthew Dellavedova for a predraft workout, Mike Brown watched impressed as his 3-on-3 team won the first three games played against other draft-eligible candidates. So Brown shuffled the team and swapped Dellavedova with a guard on the other side, then watched Dellavedova carry his new teammates to victory three more times.
“By the end of the session, all five guys that were here with him, they were listening to him,” Brown said. “He was telling them what to do. All eyes were glued on him, then they went out and did it.”
Dellavedova, affectionately known around Cleveland Clinic Courts simply as “Delly,” has an inside track on one of the Cavs’ last two roster spots because of his competitiveness, his knowledge of the game and his incredible ability to squeeze a tremendous amount of production out of an ordinary frame.
Now that Jarrett Jack is sidelined for about 10 days with a sore left knee, Delly is suddenly the Cavs’ backup point guard for the foreseeable future, beginning with the preseason game tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats at Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Brown is committed to keeping Dion Waiters strictly a shooting guard, and given Kyrie Irving’s injury history, the Cavs will likely need to carry three point guards through the season.
The front office has been high on Dellavedova since his days at St. Mary, when he averaged 15.8 points and 6.4 assists as a senior to earn the West Coast Conference Player of the Year Award and was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the top point guard in college basketball.
Dellavedova’s college coach, Randy Bennett, was an assistant at the University of San Diego when both Mike Brown and General Manager Chris Grant played there, so Cavs executives are obviously familiar with him.
The biggest knock against him is that he isn’t athletic, something that seems to irritate him. But even Brown concedes it’s true.
“I’d probably bet half my salary I would get a dunk before he does, and I’m not even playing anymore,” Brown said. “He is a non-athlete. But he gets everything out of his body that you can possibly ask or hope for, and that’s what you appreciate.”
That’s by design.
Dellavedova is from Australia, considered the world leader in sports science and recovery. (It’s no coincidence the Cavs hired Alex Moore, who was educated in Australia, to oversee the training staff).
Australia’s population is about 22 million — roughly the size of Texas. In order to adequately compete in the Olympics, Australia has become the world leader in studying athletics and the human body. The Australian Institute of Sport was created in 1981 to give the country’s elite athletes a place to train and to learn about nutrition and recovery.
Dellavedova lived for nearly three years at the AIS, which was eight hours from his home, beginning when he was 16.
“They taught us about recovery, how to take care of your body, stretching, forms of massage, nutrition, sports psychology, they taught you everything,” he said. “So every day I’m trying to get the most out of myself whether it’s on the court, stretching, weights, recovery, watching game tape. I’ve still got a lot of room to improve.”
Dellavedova went to summer league with the Cavs, then earned a small amount of guaranteed dollars to come to training camp with the team. He will now assume the backup point guard duties for the next four or five preseason games. Brown saw enough in the predraft workout to know Dellavedova could be great as a developmental guard once Jack returns.
“He elevated that workout,” Brown said. “Now was he the most talented? Probably wasn’t the most talented guy. But the leadership stuff, the intangible stuff, that’s hard to find. He’s really, really good with that as well as being an intelligent player and a capable player. But leadership skills and presence, all the things that you need to have on your ball club to help you become a winning/championship level ball club, he brings to the table.”
Jack, Felix injured
Jack has inflammation in his left knee and will be shut down for about 10 days and rookie Carrick Felix was diagnosed with a sports hernia, the Cavs announced Monday.
In addition, rookie Sergey Karasev has been excused from the team to obtain a work visa. He is expected to return in time for the preseason home game Thursday against the Detroit Pistons.
The Cavs announced the injuries following media availability Monday. Brown only said there were a few players he was considering holding out of the game against the Bobcats, but refused to elaborate.
Jack has been diagnosed with chondromalacia (inflammation/irritation of cartilage on the underside of the patella). Given the timeline, he should still be back in time for the start of the regular season Oct. 30.
Felix was evaluated for groin pain and an MRI revealed the hernia.
The Cavs have been hit hard with injuries just two weeks into the preseason, although none of them are considered serious except for Andrew Bynum’s situation — which the Cavs obviously knew about when they signed him. There is still no timetable for when Bynum will be cleared to play 5-on-5.
Tyler Zeller has yet to return following a strained hip and Alonzo Gee returned Sunday from a sore hamstring. Brown said he will start Gee at small forward tonight.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.