The overseas route isn’t glamorous and it’s not easy. It’s also not for everybody. But for a select few, like Malcolm Delaney, it allows for growth. It allows for players to put the game of basketball and also the game of life in to better perspective.
Malcolm Delaney went undrafted out of Virginia Tech in 2011 but that hasn’t deterred him from playing professional basketball. In summer of 2011, Delaney signed with Chalon, a club out of France for the 2011-12 season. In his first season overseas, Delaney and Chalon won the French National Cup, the highest honor in the league behind Delaney’s 15.4 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Delaney shot 43.4% from the 3 point line and made 62 three pointers on the season in 29 games. To put it in perspective, Delaney played with Joffrey Lauvergne, currently of the Denver Nuggets, who only averaged 14.8 minutes per game.
Enter Season 2, Delaney signed with BC Budivelnyk for the 2012-13 season in the Ukraine, this time for the Eurocup. In Europe, formats and leagues are different. There are 8 levels of play ultimately, with Euroleague being the highest and Eurocup being the way to qualify for Euroleagues in the future. It’s fun stuff once you get to understand it.
With BC Budivelnyk, Delaney averaged 16.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game behind a 9-7 record. The team did manage to make the Semifinals in Eurocup where they lost. BC Budivelnyk did, however, win the 2012-13 Ukranian National Cup for their respective league and Delaney was named 1st team All-Eurocup. So, if you’re keeping count, that’s 2 titles in 2 seasons overseas.
In 2013-14, things got a bit more interesting as not only did Delaney’s asking price sky rocket, but so did the level of competition. Delaney signed with FC Bayern Munich (2013-14) basketball club, if the name looks familiar, it should as they’re sponsored by the soccer (football) club dubbed with the same name.
With FC Bayern Munich, Delaney shined despite their 9-15 record in Euroleague, leading the team in points with 334 total points and assists with 107 total assists. Delaney won the Basketball Bundesliga MVP (awarded for the best player in the regular season in Germany) award for the league as well as the German National Cup for FC Bayern. Delaney was also named Finals MVP of the Playoffs for FC Bayern Munich as well as named to the 2013-14 Euroleague Top 16 team. So, if you’re keeping track, that’s 3 titles in 3 seasons.
Enter Russian power Lokomotiv Kuban, Delaney’s team for the past two seasons. In the 2014-15 season, Delaney averaged 12.8 points,4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game in 17 games for Lokomotiv Kuban, but they came up short in the Eurocup Quarterfinals, marking the first season Delaney didn’t win a league title.
This past season, Delaney led Lokomotiv Kuban to the 2016 Euroleague Final Four, where they finished in 3rd place. In 31 games, Delaney averaged 16.3 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.4 rebounds to the tune of Top 16 Round 1 MVP , Top 16 Round 2 MVP, 2015-16 Euroleague October MVP, and 2015-16 All-Euroleague First Team. It also marked career highs in total points (504), total rebounds (106), and steals (27). Needless to say, a leader has been born behind 3 different league titles in 5 different leagues.
Delaney has since turned down Barcelona at the conclusion of this past season and now at 27 years old, his focus is on the NBA and teams have taken notice, particularly the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets. I was able to get a hold of Malcolm Delaney as well to get his perspective and thoughts on a few of the more difficult aspects of the overseas process.
Q & A:
What has been your motivation every season to go across that pond and play basketball?
The main motivation and probably only motivation for me probably has been providing a comfortable life for my family and I. That’s all I really care about and that’s my focus going into every season besides competitively trying to win every game I step on the floor and play.
What has been your biggest lesson in playing overseas basketball?
I think the game became easier when I learn to have the patience to develop my game in the best ways to help everybody around me and not just me. It has taught me how to keep a business mindset and focus on the job at hand which is winning.
Is it really the “NBA or bust for you” as rumors have it?
I wouldn’t take it that far. Nothing at this point for me is a bust because going to the NBA will probably come with the same or similar baggage as overseas life. And even if it doesn’t work out, I have other options to fall back on that won’t hurt me at all. It’s a fact that the NBA is priority.
Which season would you call your best season?
My second regular season in Ukraine and Euroleague competition this past season in Russia. Making the Final Four without being on a big name team is my biggest accomplishment so far.
Does family play a factor in wanting to stay in the States and play in the NBA?
I honestly think my family wants me in the league more than I do, but yes it is one of the major factors. Them being able to see me play more and spend more time together is a major factor. I literally miss every holiday and birthday while I’m gone.
With the Free Agency period in full swing on July 1, stay tuned as the overseas process was just a stepping stone to bigger dreams for Delaney who hopes to get a contract this offseason with an NBA team. They know what they’re getting: a leader and a winner. Follow Malcolm on Twitter as well, @foe23 to follow his journey!