After a successful career in Europe after starring at Virginia Tech University, point guard Malcolm Delaney took his talents back to the United States, signing with the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2016.
As a rookie in the 2016-2017 season, he averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. Then, last year, his role didn’t expand (even during a rebuild). He put up 6.3 points and 3.0 assists in 18.8 minutes per contest, mainly playing behind Dennis Schroder.
In other words, they were two underwhelming campaigns.
As a result, he didn’t receive interest in free agency this summer and decided to leave the States once again, this time signing with the Guangdong Southeastern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball League.
Now that he’s no longer affiliated with the NBA, he had no hesitation speaking about his time in Atlanta and reflected on his two seasons in the league. Speaking to Greek media outlet SDNA, the 29 year old called out the Hawks and specifically mentioned former coach Mike Budenholzer, who is now with the Milwaukee Bucks.
When asked to rate his time with the Hawks from one to ten, he went right down the middle.
A below-average NBA experience
“Ahhh, probably it would be a 5. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy playing basketball,” he admitted. “My first year, it was weird for. Like I told Eurohoops, when I came to Atlanta the GM wanted me there. I am not sure how much the coach wanted me in Atlanta. We went into the season with the team having only two point guards, so I had to play. I was playing well. After the All Star Break, I wasn’t comfortable with the role in the second half of the season.”
Therefore, he didn’t think he ever had Budenholzer’s support. He then explained how his role never suited his game.
“You know, Tim Hardaway started playing well and I didn’t have the ball on my hands. So basically I just sit in the corner. Anybody who knows me, knows where I am at my best, when I play pick n’ roll, when I am able to put myself in a rhythm. I can’t just sit in the corner shooting 3s. That’s not my game. So the second half of the season, I didn’t really feel comfortable and in the end they brought in an older guy and played him over me. He wasn’t playing better. It was the first time of my career, where I didn’t play,” he added.
He thought things would change in his second year, but they didn’t, even though he viewed himself as the “best player in the team”.
“Going into my second year, I thought I was going to have a better opportunity,” Delaney noted. “The coach had told me that he was looking forward to seeing me improving, and getting even better. So I thought that the opportunity was wide open. Dennis (Schroder) and Bazemore had guaranteed minutes and everything else was wide open. My approach during the summer was getting back to being myself. I was very aggressive in the summer. Talk to any assistant coach and he will tell you. I was probably the best player in the team. That’s how I approach the summer. I had a good summer. … I thought that I was going to play more minutes, I was going to have bigger role in the team because we weren’t that good.”
He knew right away that it was going to be a long year.
“The first game of the season, I didn’t play. I played like 11 minutes. So for me it was all bad. And I asked for a trade last season, but it ended up not going through. I didn’t have fun playing last year. I wasted a season after all, it didn’t help me at all,” he explained.
In China, Delaney will seemingly receive the opportunity that he’s looking for. It was interesting to hear an ex-NBA player open up in such a fashion and there’s a strong possibility that the point guard will never receive another chance due to his comments, his lack of opportunity to prove himself in Atlanta and his advanced age.