ATHENS–In my Hawks player preview of Malcolm Delaney I wrote that he “experienced a personal, family tragedy in the summer before his first NBA season. I’ve never met Delaney so I have no insight into how much of a factor that played in his poor season.”
Now I’ve met Delaney. I asked him if his personal tragedy affected his professional performance, and here’s what he said:
“Of course. People just didn’t understand everything I had to go through. I signed a deal and, the next day, my brother almost died in my arms. Like, the next day after that. Last summer I didn’t really get to focus as much as I did this year on my game. It was more (a focus) on my family, making sure everybody was straight.
“And then throughout the season I still was dealing with stuff. My family couldn’t really watch as many games in person. I planned on my brother moving to Atlanta with me and (being) my manager, so I didn’t have that. I had the limousine company trying to sue me for somebody coming after us. During the playoffs, I got subpoenaed (to appear) in front of a grand jury, a year after it happened.
“So it was always stuff going on. My brother was going through some stuff with his wife. It was a lot, man. I had to deal with being the top guy and holding everything together with my family, especially financially.
“But everything is good (now). My brother is good. His family situation is good now. I took care of the lawsuit. So this summer has been all basketball. It’s been good for me.”
Delaney came to the NBA after five years in Europe. While playing there, and during his senior year at Virginia Tech, Delaney was a good three-point shooter while hoisting them at a high value. He also got to the free-throw line frequently.
But Delaney did neither of those things well as a 27-year old NBA rookie. He ranked last in true shooting percentage (45.6) and effective field-goal percentage (40.7) among the 158 NBA players who played at least 1,000 minutes and had a usage rate equal to or higher than 18.3.
Delaney said that, for him, being a more efficient shooter starts with being more aggressive with getting to the basket.
“The best part of my game before I came here was getting to the free-throw line,” he said. “That kind of gave me my rhythm for my outside shot. Last year I didn’t get to the free-throw line as much so I wasn’t really confident in my outside shot.”
After Delaney was the main scorer in college and for his European teams, he had to adjust to being a reserve point guard for the Hawks. He said he’s “still confident” in his shooting because of his track record but that shooting a lower volume and seeing his percentages slide was a new experience.
“I wasn’t used to going 0-for-3, 0-for-2, 0-for-1,” he said. “You look at in two weeks, I’m 0-for-15. I never played like that so that was kind of difficult for me.”
Delaney said he plans to be more assertive this season.
“Last year I just wanted to come in and fit in,” he said. “I didn’t want to come in and try to impose my will on the team. I was all about winning. Whatever I could do to help win, that’s what I did. Early in the season I think the style of play I played helped us win. We didn’t play as well toward the end of the season so I needed to do a little bit more, be a little bit more confident and aggressive and I didn’t. I didn’t really help the team out and I didn’t help myself out, either.”
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