The Atlanta Hawks made an investment in former Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. While Hawks fans did not have the opportunity to see a full slate from Dorsey in the Las Vegas Summer League, Oliver Maroney of UPROXX’s DimeMag has observed and scouted for Dorsey for quite a while and he has agreed to answer a few questions to provide background on the rookie.
Q: Tyler Dorsey jumped on to the NBA Draft map after a big-time performance in the NCAA Tournament. How indicative was that performance when compared to the rest of his college showing?
A: It was certainly more impressive than his regular season. Dorsey played a much bigger role with Oregon once Chris Boucher went down. He took more of a leadership role and got more touches. Once the tournament started, you could tell he was going to be one of the two primary ball handlers and the team just seemed to be ok with him becoming a more ball dominant player. He started to take on a huge offensive load and thankfully, it worked.
For me, Dorsey doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective. He's an incredible shooter, but what we saw in the NCAA tournament was sheer volume. For him to feel comfortable, I think Oregon realized they needed him to have the ball to see the best of Dorsey. This, to me, became an issue. Even though you saw his career-highs and big moments come in the tournament, you knew he could be just as lethal without the ball but he hadn't shown much of that.
Q: The big concern (one that has been stated by the team) with Dorsey is on the defensive end. What have you seen from him at the college level and what kind of positional defender do you see him as at the NBA level?
A: At the college level, his lateral quickness and size isn't where it needs to be. I think his basketball IQ can make up for some of the defensive know-how and understanding but he has to be in a system that allows for him to be offense-first.
As I said earlier, Oregon found they got the best out of Dorsey when they put the ball in his hands and let him "run wild". When that's happening, he seems to buy-in on defense more. Even so, do I think he can be an elite defender? No. But I think he can certainly find a way to not have such a glaring problem with his effort on the defensive end of the floor. That starts with creating a role for Dorsey and making sure he understands that. From there, I think he can start to feel comfortable and confident, which will help his overall defensive effort (a lot of the problem at times).
His versatility is going to be a problem on defense. He probably won't be guarding a teams' best option and based on his size and strength, he will have to defend against guards only. He's not going to win you games on the defensive end of the floor, but I think there are ways the Hawks could hide him on defense to avoid being exploited against specific matchups.
Q: What kind of shooter do you believe Dorsey will be? Will he be a truly elite option or something lesser?
A: This is where Dorsey separates himself. He is an elite shooter. If he could have the confidence without the ball like he has with it, Dorsey could become an extremely effective offensive guard. His shooting is pure, natural and very consistent while his ability to work off-the-ball has shown promise.
If I was going through draft prospects and just pure shooters, Dorsey is an undoubted first-rounder. He's one of the more polished and mechanically sound shooters that I've seen. But, as I've referenced previously, he needs to find a way to hit shots consistently without having the ball in his hands.
Q: There seems to be a divide as to whether folks believe Dorsey can play point guard or not. Where do you stand?
A: There is no way I see Dorsey working as a point guard. He's not a number one option or facilitator and makes a lot of mistakes as the primary ball handler. Even in the NCAA tournament, while he was averaging good offensive statistics, many dismissed his mistake-driven play at times. His decision making was slow and led to a number of ball movement issues for Oregon. Could he improve and get better in two or three years time? Possibly. But now, I don't see Dorsey as a viable option as a point guard in the NBA.
Q: Were you surprised Dorsey was drafted as high as he was? Do you think that selection will end up ultimately paying dividends for the Hawks?
A: I was very surprised. Before this past Oregon season had even begun, Dorsey was rumored to be looking at going overseas to play. So the motive of playing professionally was certainly there. However, if you were to say that his fellow teammate and PAC-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks would be selected before him, that would be a surprise to anyone who watched Oregon throughout the season.
It's not that Dorsey was bad. He's clearly an elite shooter and many people viewed him as a good prospect before his final college season. But, before the NCAA tournament I'd say he was Oregon's third or fourth most valuable player. Sometimes, he looked lost on offense and sometimes, he showed why he was picked where he was. For me, he just wasn't the consistent player many expected him to be.
I think if Dorsey can learn to play without the ball and showcase that drive and aggressiveness he showed in the NCAA Tournament, then he'll be a great value pick for the Hawks.
But, if Dorsey doesn't find a rhythm and spot within the team, he could be in for a rude awakening. Hopefully Budenholzer can get the most out of Dorsey by utilizing that team oriented basketball style. If they can find the right mix, Dorsey could be a great addition to the Hawks.