The Atlanta Hawks introduced their three 2017 draft picks to the media on Monday morning, giving each guy a chance to talk about what he’ll be able to bring to the table for the Hawks. Second round selection Tyler Dorsey answered a few questions about his fit in the NBA and the skills he’s developed over his time at the University of Oregon.
Dorsey is a score-first guard who will be able to play both guard positions. He mentioned in the press conference that he looks up to CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers as a combo guard who can score on- and off-ball. McCollum’s role with Portland is a good inspiration for what Dorsey can become if he’s able to stick with the Hawks, as Atlanta has an entrenched starting point guard in Dennis Schröder, much like the Trail Blazers do with Damian Lillard.
New Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk had high praise for Dorsey during his introduction: “Tyler’s a guy, as you guys saw in the NCAA tournament, scored a thousand points in two years at Oregon...He can shoot the ball, 40 percent his freshman year, 42 [percent] last year, so we’re very excited to add his shooting to the team. The one thing with Tyler that a lot of people don’t realize is I think he’s got the ability to become a really reliable secondary ball-handler.”
There’s very little doubt that Dorsey’s shooting will translate to the NBA. He has a natural shooting stroke and can pull up off the dribble or spot-up on the weak side. Some college players have trouble adjusting to the longer three-point line in the big leagues, but Dorsey made seven of his ten attempts from beyond 24 feet at Oregon last season, per Synergy. That’s a ridiculously small sample size, but promising nonetheless.
What will set Dorsey apart from his fellow second-round draftees is his ability to evolve into that secondary ball-handler Schlenk and the Hawks front office and coaching staff believe is in him. He’s a skilled scorer and is able to get into the paint at will, but developing as a passer will be incredibly important for his career.
He’s a wonderful scorer in pick-and-roll but there’s still improvements to be made in finding the big man rolling to the rim when he draws the extra defender, as he often will with his lethal scoring ability. There will be more space for him to work at the NBA level, but he’ll still need to be able to hit the roll man to succeed as either a secondary ball-handler or the primary point guard when Schröder sits.
Dorsey touched on his defense briefly in the press conference, telling reporters that he takes pride in his defense and that “it’s more mental on the defensive end.” The effort shows up on film, but he may just not have the physical tools to be a plus defender at the next level. At 6’5” and 180 pounds with a 6’5” wingspan, he’s a bit small to defend NBA shooting guards.