NBA in Dellavedova’s Sight

 Saint Mary’s Gael Senior Matthew Dellavedova’s name hasn’t been mentioned too much in discussions about potential draftees next season, even as a late prospect. But perhaps that’s all about to change. Looking at Dellavedova’s career form at the collegiate level, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t got a case. For the sake of argument, let’s see how his career stats so far, as well as his potential impact in the NBA, compare to another former Australian St. Mary’s Gael PG Patty Mills.  Before that however, it’s important to note that although Dellavedova is listed on just about every website as 190lbs, a good size as it is for a 6’4″ PG, he has clearly bulked up quite considerably during the off season and may now be tipping the scales closer to 195-200lbs. This increased strength has already added another dimension to his game, with the hot shooter now able to muscle out even the bigger and perhaps more athletic major conference players. Already, this gives him a three-inch and five to ten pound advantage on the 6’0″ 185lbs Mills. Now to the important numbers.
In only two years of college, there was no doubt that Patty Mills dominated whoever the Gaels played, notching up season POINTS/ASSISTS averages of 14.8/3.5 and 18.4/3.9 for a career total of 16.6/3.7. From the three point line, where Mills was at his most dangerous, he scored at an impressive 30%, which included 128 made 3’s (2.2AVG per game), as well as 41% from general play. Now if you look at Dellavedova’s statistics, these over a three year period, it wouldn’t be so farfetched to say that he has the wood over the now San Antonio Spur. Although Dellavedova only averages 13.6PPG (3PPG less than Mills), from beyond the arc Dellavedova hit 202 baskets prior to this season (2.0AVG per game), scoring 38% of the time. That’s 8% better while only averaging 0.2 shots less per game. Not only this, but from general play, Dellavedova matches Mills’ 41%; and that’s with an extra season under his belt. So if both of these guys were on the court for the same team; 10 seconds and 1 basket away from winning the game, who would you prefer to have the ball in their hands? Exactly. Dellavedova. And even in this hypothetical situation if Dellavedova didn’t get a shot off, his ASSISTS/TURNOVER ratio is almost double that of Mills 2.2 to 1.2 so if there’s a better option presenting itself, trust Delly to find it. 
Now this statistical match-up in output between the two Aussies got me thinking about how Dellavedova compares to other mid-major PG’s who have either gotten drafted or were the “best-of-the-rest” in the last five years. Here were players who fit the tag: Eric Maynor (VCU), Charles Jenkins (Hofstra), Norris Cole (Cleveland State), Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga), Matt Boulding (Gonzaga), Mickey McConnell (St. Mary’s), Julyan Stone (UTEP), Scott Machado (Iona), Damian Lillard (Weber State), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Stephen Curry (Davidson) Armon Johnson (Nevada), and seeing as he fits that exact bill, let’s throw Patty Mills in as well. 
Of all these players, fourteen in total, Dellavedova has the ninth highest PPG (again, prior to the beginning of this season), with only 0.4PPG less than Cleveland State’s Norris Cole (14PPG on the nose) who got drafted at #28 in the 2011 draft. He has the second highest APG behind only Scott Machado (6.5APG) who now plays for the Houston Rockets. And although ranking thirteenth in overall FG%, he ranks 6th in 3P%, only 0.1% behind former first-rounders Damian Lillard and Jimmer Fredette. While it may be argued that Dellavedova might not have the athletic capabilities of some of these players (although we won’t know exactly where he stands until he undergoes the draft combine), his impact on games is something that the scouts will no doubt take notice of. And that brings me to my next point.
One particular statistic that I wanted to focus on is something that I’m calling “The Showtime Factor”. This essentially calculates how each player performed versus teams that made that years NCAA Tournament. Basically, it’s how they perform on the big stage against a quality opponent. Versus Mills (I keep drawing on this comparison because although Mills only played two seasons at St Mary’s, both players have had an equal positive effect on the Gaels program) Dellavedova averages 15.2PPG/5.1AST to Mills’ 15.5PPG/2.9AST in 9 more games. A next to nothing difference in the points (0.3PPG) while Dellavedova has a clear edge in assists (3.2APG). Again, I wanted to see how he compared to those other mid-major PG’s I mentioned previously, but this time only focusing on those who played the entire four years at one particular school. This sample consists of Eric Maynor, Charles Jenkins, Norris Cole, Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Mickey McConnell, Julyan Stone, Scott Machado, Damian Lillard and Jimmer Fredette. Now, if we consider Damian Lillard and Jimmer Fredette to be outliers (let’s face it, as good as Dellavedova is, there’s very little chance he’ll be a lottery pick like both of these guys), Dellavedova ranked second in PPG behind only Charles Jenkins (20.6PPG) and second in APG behind, once again, Scott Machado (6.4APG). This leads me to another statistic I’ve come up with: Percentage Increase (which I will short hand as %INC), which basically indicates how much better or worse a player has performed in bigger games compared to a lesser quality opponent. Out of this second sample of players, excluding Lillard and Fredette, Dellavedova has the second highest PPG %INC behind only Jeremy Pargo; 11.8%INC and 27.2%INC respectively (Pargo jumped from 9.2PPG to 11.7PPG). And even with this statistic considered, Dellavedova still averaged 3.5PPG more than Pargo. There’s no denying, Dellavedova relishes the Big Time. 
Now, for a player who makes it his business to bring his teammates into the game, you may be encouraged to believe that Dellavedova’s turnover (TOPG) count is much higher than that of these shoot-first PG’s like Patty Mills, Charles Jenkins, Damian Lillard, Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry. Well, you’d be surprised. Out of these six players, who all (besides Delly) had an average greater than 16PPG, Dellavedova has the equal best TO ratio per game (2.4) with Damian Lillard –  Charles Jenkins and Stephen Curry both average 3TOPG. And of all of the other players in the initial fourteen player sample, only four have a lower TOPG average than Dellavedova. 
There’s no denying the kids got talent, as well as statistics to prove it. But that doesn’t really bare any true resemblance to how he compares to the current crop of mid-major PGs. So where does he rank?Looking at the highest ranked senior point guards playing in a mid major program (Mid Major All-American 1st and 2nd teams) this year. The players who “made the cut” so to speak are C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), Nate Wolters (South Dakota State), Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) and D.J. Cooper (Ohio). Out of these five players, Dellavedova, although fifth in PPG,  2.3PPG below the median value, he ranks second in assists (5.4APG) – only behind D.J. Cooper (6.3APG), and while fourth in TOPG (2.4), he’s only behind first ranked Canaan by 0.3. For those savvy mathematicians out there who remembered Dellavedovas AST/TO ratio mentioned previously (2.2), you may have worked out that that equates to being a first ranked AST/TO among all the five players. Dellavedova also ranks second in 3P% and 3PM behind only Canaan (37.6% vs 44.7% and 2 vs 2.1 respectively). 
Realistically, the best chance that Dellavedova will get drafted will be if a team, most likely a more experienced team with not much depth at the PG position such as the Celtics or Knicks, recognised Dellavedovas ability to create plays with a low turnover percentage and who has the ability to use his size and strength to drive to the basket while being able to provide valuable spacing with his lethal three-point shooting. Taking nothing away from the Patty Mills’ of the world, who are obviously tremendous players, but Dellavedova just seems to be a more stable, and by stable I mean greater shooting percentage and better Assists/Turnover ratio, and perhaps even more creative (although that’s debatable) PG. It may very well come down to how Dellavedova performs at the Draft Combine; where his athletic ability may really prove to be the one thing that holds him back. As time stands though, if Dellavedova can continue to improve both statistically and physically like he has done for each of his past three seasons, he should be a very good chance to be even a late call-out come raft night. Of course, only time will tell but one thing is for sure: I’ll be watching.
Christopher Tyler

November 30th 2012
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