After two successful seasons at Lokomotiv Kuban, recently leading the Russian club to an Euroleague Final Four appearance, Malcolm Delaney has signed a two-year guaranteed deal with the Atlanta Hawks to serve as their backup point guard.
Delaney figures to be a good fit because he is already accustomed to playing in an offense that evolves from counter to counter based on the way the defense reacts, as Lokomotiv moved the ball from side-to-side and in-and-out constantly within a given possession.
Delaney did not monopolize possession of the ball and played a team-oriented style, passing ahead in transition to up the pace of the game and keeping the ball moving when it was appropriate in the half-court.
When the offense didn’t generate a look picking apart a miscue by the defense, Delaney proved himself more than capable of creating off dribble penetration.
He is a polished ball-handler getting by his man in straight isolations, able to change speeds or stop-and-start in a dime. Delaney also has the quickness to turn the corner out of the pick-and-roll and force the defense to collapse to him, which he explored extremely well with his ability to pass on the move. Also proving able to make crosscourt passes to weak-side shooters spotting up in corner when the defense forced him away from the lane in the pick-and-roll, Delaney assisted on 29% of Lokomotiv’s scores when he was on the floor last season – according to RealGM.
As a scorer on dribble drives, he doesn’t attack the basket with a lot of explosiveness and has generally struggled scoring against length. According to the league website, Delaney converted just 44.4% of his 27 shots in the lane in the VTB United last season and 54.1% of his 85 attempts the season before. I’ve found no available data of how he did against Eurolegue competition last season but playing for Bayern Munich in the 2013-2014 season, he converted just 46.9% of his 49 shots at the rim – according to gigabasket.org.
Delaney has managed to remain a threat out of dribble penetration, however, due to his ability to draw shooting fouls in volume. He possesses a compact 190-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-three height but has proven to be a savvy player seeking contact in traffic, averaging 6.4 free throws per 40 minutes last season.
But since there are concerns regarding how much of his foul drawing ability will translate to the NBA level, Delaney’s top skill in that league figures to be his outside shooting.
Not only can he fit alongside another ball handler or within an offense where he doesn’t monopolize possession due to his ability to spot up on the weak-side, Delaney has also proven able to make shots on the move – coming off side screens and sprinting full speed to the ball to catch-and-shoot off dribble-handoffs (something the Hawks are already used to exploring with Kyle Korver), nailing 36.7% of his 786 three-point shots over the last three seasons.
But perhaps more relevant, Delaney is a legit threat to hit pull-up jumpers, even from three-point range. He can stop on a dime, elevates with great balance and has a quick, compact release. Delaney converted 42.3% of his mid-range jumpers in the VTB United league last season, 38.6% of such attempts in that league the season before and 39.2% of these shots in the Euroleague the season before that one.
His defense improved since his time with Bayern Munich. In the Euroleague playoffs, he was extremely engaged putting in the effort on that end of the floor.
Delaney got on a stance defending on the ball and worked hard to navigate over ball screens in the pick-and-roll. He lacks strength to contain dribble penetration through contact but his combination of length and lateral quickness should make him at least a zero defender (doesn’t help but doesn’t hurt) in most instances.
He eases up his stance defending on the weak-side but sprints to chase shooters around pindown screens, though his six-foot-six wingspan isn’t enough for him to contest catch-and-shoot jump-shots effectively when he’s matched up against true wings.
Delaney proved to be a smart team defender, attentive to his responsibilities crashing inside in help-defense to draw charges and attempting to box out bigger players on help-the-helper situations. He also worked hard to front big men when he got caught on switches.
Delaney’s contributions through steals and blocks are marginal at best but he was of help finishing possessions pitching in on the defensive glass, collecting 13% of opponents’ misses last season – which is an above average mark for a point guard.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara