In a couple of weeks, the NBA Draft will happen, and Domantas Sabonis' name will be announced. That much is basically a certainty in life.
Kyle Wiltjer, on the other hand, isn't such a sure thing. Wiltjer is your classic Christian Laettner style player--a monster in college and not necessarily a monster at the next level. As the NBA has evolved into the game that it is today, guys like Laettner and potentially Wiltjer have a much harder road to walk.
But, in a weird way, we can look towards the old arch nemesis of Gonzaga--Matthew Dellavedova.
Dellavedova has some decent-ish height for being a guard, but he hardly has the NBA body that makes scouts drool. In fact, nothing of his game made scouts drool, and when he graduated in 2013 he went undrafted.
There are other ways into the league, and Dellavedova found it. He hit the summer league hard, and was rewarded with a contract on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And this right here is important to remember. Because as we watch Dellavedova in his second-consecutive NBA Finals, we can remember that part of making a career in professional sports involves being with the right team at the right time.
Now, I don’t want to take anything away from Dellavedova. I hate him with all his being, but he also has most definitely worked his life away to make it to this dream, and for that, I congratulate him.
Dellavedova also got incredibly lucky. Dellavedova happened to land on a team where his locker is within 15 feet of Lebron James. Dellavedova happened to land on a team that lost its starting point guard to a knee injury and suddenly had to turn to a young, Australian point guard to lead the team in the NBA FINALS.
And again, let’s not take anything away from him. But, we are talking about a player that has been named the dirtiest player in the league by his colleagues and coaches. There isn't much of his game outside of "hustle" that endears anyone outside of Cleveland.
None of that matters, however. Dellavedova has carved out a career averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 assists per game over 21 minutes per game. He will never be the star of his team. He doesn’t even have the potential of a Jeremy Lin-like blowup situation. But he has a career in the NBA and a team with a need for him.
So why exactly have I stooped so low as to mention Dellavedova on a Gonzaga blog? Well, for starters, he goes to show that you don't necessarily have to be the best player to find a consistent roster spot on a team. There is a bit of luck that goes with it all as well.
Kelly Olynyk is finding success with the Boston Celtics, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that the Celtics were abysmal when he was drafted. Olynyk got his playing time and was able to demonstrate that he belonged, slowly but surely. Three seasons in and Olynyk is a consistent contributor off the bench for a team that was in the playoffs.
Considering that Sabonis has been ranked anywhere from No. 9 to No. 20 in mock drafts and that Wiltjer is working the uphill climb to make it in, the curious case of Dellavedova shows that sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
The key is to just be a better player than him when the name is called.