Most rookies enter the NBA straight out of college and are barely old enough to legally drink at a bar.
Not Malcolm Delaney.
Delaney began his rookie season in the NBA at the age of 27 years old after amassing a wealth of experience overseas, and waiting for the right time, and opportunity, before entering the league.
After going undrafted in 2011, Delaney began his alternate path to the NBA in France’s top league before working his way across Europe, spending seasons at BC Budivelnyk in the Ukraine and German team Bayern Munich, before ending with two seasons at PBC Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia and a Euroleague Final Four appearance, and being named to the 2016 All-Euroleage first team.
It was only after the end of the 2015-26 NBA season when Delaney inked a deal with the Atlanta Hawks, where he would join All Star Dwight Howard on an exciting Hawks’ roster.
Talking about what it felt like to land that NBA contract after four years playing in Europe Delaney told starting5online that it was all about timing, and waiting for the right opportunity to come along rather than rushing into a poor contract just to be in the league.
“Honestly I didn’t even have a big reaction,” he said. “I wanted to wait for the right situation. It wasn’t about getting the call because I could have been in the NBA – but I wanted to come back when somebody really wanted me to be on the team, give me the opportunity to play, and the money was right.”
Coming into the league as a mature age rookie has its advantages, though. After getting experience playing against some of the best players in Europe, Delaney said that having that extra experience helped him a lot.
“Coming out of college I just had a different mindset. I was a different type or player – I was more like score first. Europe taught be how to slow the game down and that making people around me better makes the team better,” Delaney said.
“The pick and roll in Europe is different, and helping me to see the floor – when I came to the NBA it was easy because now I’ve got more space to work with what I learned over there. I have more space and it’s just easier for me to make my team mates better, and get my shots off. It’s been a pretty easy transition for me.”
Talking about the differences in culture when in comes to playing Europe vs the NBA, Delaney said that it can be very dramatic over there.
“Every loss if like somebody died. You lose two games you might get fined. It’s different. In the NBA you learn from games, you don’t practice all week just to play now. We can play now, have a bad game, but than have another game tomorrow where we can try to make up, so just the schedule is the biggest thing.”
Being back in the United States after five years abroad, The Hawks’ rookie has already readjusted to life in Atlanta, and has already grown to love the city and being able to get good food again. “It makes you appreciate it more – being at home, having access to my family. Going places and being comfortable within our culture has been the easiest thing for me because it was tough for five years, and four different cultures, trying to adjust to how the people live there and the stuff they do. Now I’m more comfortable in my environment.”
Being able to have your family watch you play on television every night, and attend games is something that a lot of NBA players take for granted. Delaney is now excited about having his family only a few hours away again, and being able to share is basketball journey with them.
“I missed my family seeing me play,” he said. “They had to get up on the internet and watch my games on the computer most of the time. They always came over to visit at least once or twice a year, but just them having me on TV every night or them being able to come see me play just with a short flight, that’s been the best part.”
He might be a late bloomer as far as the NBA is concerned, but Malcolm Delaney is already proving to be a valuable member of his team coming off the bench and running the point, as well as adding some points and racking up assists. Not many people may know who he is yet, but by the end of this season people will know Malcolm Delaney.
Feature Image: sircharlesincharge.com