Less than three weeks ago, Matthew Dellavedova was buying tickets to Browns games off Stubhub and sitting anonymously among Cleveland fans in the upperdeck of First Energy Stadium.
During the time since, he's worked his way toward averaging 29 minutes per night for the Cavs in back-to-back games as an undrafted rookie from St. Mary's University.
After Cleveland's 98-91 loss to the visiting Wizards, I caught up with Delly to ask him about his mindset defensively and the spark he's been trying to provide off the bench.
While his inspirational run up the Rocky steps in Philadelphia certainly contributed to his emergence, Dellavedova's ability to play with an effort, energy and toughness that his teammates desperately lack right now has landed him in Mike Brown's rotation by default.
He may even be a starter next time out depending on the status of C.J. Miles' injury.
In the process of relentlessly chasing Bradley Beal defensively while making hustle plays all over the floor, Dellavedova actually tied Martell Webster for a game-high plus / minus of + 21.
This is in a game where he played 27 minutes and his team eventually lost by seven. Plus 21.
Afterwards, Brown referenced Delly (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) as the only player on the Cavs roster who actually played with effort throughout the game. That much was glaringly obvious, too. If the rest of this roster played with just 60 percent of Dellavedova's desire and effort on a nightly basis the Cavs would be 8-4 right now as opposed to 4-8.
Mike Brown, not pleased
Mike Brown wasn't happy after the game and I don't blame the guy. Talk all you want about offensive strategy, when players don't care about trying hard and demonstrating effort, it's impossible to run anything.
It's also impossible to win, which is the bigger problem for Brown's team at the moment.
In addition to saying that, "we didn't compete tonight" and calling out Delly as "the one guy playing hard," Brown also added that he will eventually, "find five guys who want to play hard for us."
Hopefully those guys are on the Cavs roster and he finds them relatively soon.
Kyrie Irving's one good quarter doesn't excuse his three bad ones on Wednesday
Kyrie Irving was perplexingly awful for three quarters against the Washington Wizards. I understand he hit a meaningless three at the buzzer to finish with 28 points and he also shot 9-of-14 from the field.
I also get that he just scored 41 last time out and is averaging 34.5 points over his last two games.
But he also played only three more minutes than Dellavedova and finished with a plus / minus of -20. His lack of energy, focus and effort to start the game helped Washington build a 25-point lead on the road–during the second night of a back-to-back–with an approach that became contagious throughout the Cavs roster.
Sure, he got his numbers in the fourth quarter and if you glance at the boxscore without watching the game it appears like another All-Star performance. But if Irving has a first quarter like he played the fourth, the game becomes easier for all of his teammates around him and things have a chance of turning out dramatically different.
Instead, however, they didn't. On to the next one I suppose.