This summer, 3QC will take a look back on each Magic player's 2007-2008 season. The first nine posts will evaluate, on an individual basis and in alphabetical order, the players who played in at least 20% of the team's total minutes; the final post will briefly evaluate the five players who appeared in less than 20% of the team's minutes.
Today, our focus is Keyon Dooling.
Keyon Dooling throws down a tomahawk -- his favorite fast-break dunk -- on Louis Williams. The bench rejoiced.
File photo by Sam Greenwood, Getty Images
|Points Per Game||Assists Per Game||Turnovers Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Assists Per 36||Turnovers Per 36|
|PER||Assist Rate||Turnover Rate|
All statistics in this table from Dooling's player page at basketball-reference. Career-high statistics highlighted in gold.
If anyone told you in October that Keyon Dooling would end up the Orlando Magic's sixth-man for the season ahead, you might have laughed and predicted the Magic would max-out at 40 wins, as they did in 2006/2007. "Keyon Dooling," you might have said incredulously, "the 6'3" combo guard who's never averaged more than 9 points or 2 assists per game in his career? Please! Surely no great team has use for him."
Well, Keyon proved you wrong. The Magic were great, and Keyon's steady performance was one of the reasons why.
Dooling's calling-card is his defense. At 27 (for most of the season, anyway; he turned 28 during the playoffs), he's still in his physical prime, meaning he still has the speed to stay with the league's best point guards and the athleticism to compensate for his lack of size against two-guards. He doesn't back down from any assignment, and plays aggressive defense without over-committing and getting burned. Stat guru John Hollinger crunched the numbers and named him the league's second-best defensive point guard. Indeed, the Magic employ Dooling for his defense, so any offense they get from him is a bonus...
... and they cashed-in this season, that's for sure. Dooling played efficiently while handling the ball quite a bit. He ended 19.6% of the Magic's possessions when he was on the floor -- trailing only Hedo Turkoglu, Dwight Howard, and Rashard Lewis among players to log at least 1000 minutes -- and rarely took a bad shot or committed a turnover. Better yet, he had the sense to drive the lane when his jumper wouldn't drop: he finished second only to Dwight Howard in free throws attempted per 36 minutes. His high free-throw conversion rate (.845) helped make those drives count. And for a team that falls in love with its jump shot all-to-frequently, that willingness to attack the basket is much welcomed. In short, Dooling's as aggressive offensively as he is defensively, and this year, it really paid off.
The only thing that suffers when Dooling's in the game is ball movement, as the Magic record assists on 50% of their shots when he plays compared to 57% when he doesn't. Then again, we can attribute some of that drop-off to the fact that the team shoots worse when he's in the game, too. I'd like to see those data adjusted to account for teammate and opponent quality in the same manner of adjusted plus-minues, but I doubt there's a way to do that just yet.
On the whole, Dooling upgraded the team's defense, provided some much-needed bench offense (I'd say "kept the offense moving," but that's an inaccurate phrase), and did so without complaint. His shoot-first style contrasts nicely with the other Magic point guards' pass-first style, and he's the only above-average defender the team has at that position. The Magic need to make re-signing Dooling a priority this offseason.
UPDATE: Added the poll, which was missing in the earlier post. Thanks to TheGiantSquid for the tip.