With the 41st pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected a guy named Tyler Dorsey from Oregon. I knew him as the guard that beat my Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament. He put down 20 points with an array of threes when the Michigan defense gave him room, and he would take them off the dribble when they stepped up in his face.
Dorsey was an incredibly frustrating player to root against during that game. His efficiency put his team in better chances for success and he always felt involved. What was most fascinating was that Dorsey got better, the bigger the game was. Looking at Dorsey’s stats in his two years at Oregon, he was a really good efficient player. Scoring 14 points per game, putting in 41.6% of his shots from three-point range, and 45% from the field.
But when it came to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Dorsey went to an entirely different level. Part of this was due to Chris Boucher going down for the Ducks, but nevertheless, Dorsey stepped up. Putting up 21, 27, 27, 24, and 20 points in each of his tournament games. This wasn’t a random skew of a flawed points per game statistic, his performance in the biggest tournament in college were dominate, consistent, and efficient.
Dorsey was a menacing offensive talent at Oregon, but to truly understand him as a basketball player, you have to go back to his high school days. In 2014, Dorsey was cut from a USA Basketball camp that was trying out players for the Under-18 national team. But, due to his Greek heritage on his mother’s side, Dorsey acquired dual citizenship with Greece and the United States.
This led to Dorsey being invited to out for Greece's Under-19 national team tryout camp. Dorsey was excellent for the Greece side that year, scoring 15.9 points per game and cementing himself as an all-around scorer for the team.
The next year Dorsey began his career at Oregon, and the rest is history. Despite having varied roles on the Ducks in his two years, an amazing run in the 2017 NCAA Tournament vaulted Dorsey into NBA minds. The Hawks took Dorsey with the 41st pick and signed him to a two-year deal. Now the question remains, where will he fit?
Despite showing great offensive skill in the tournament, there are still areas in Dorsey’s game that the NBA will shine a negative light on. His defensive habits are a bit to be desired, and he can sometimes stop the ball instead of continuing to move the offense through him. Most of the flaws in his game can be fixed with time and practice. The defensive flaws can mostly be fixed with better footwork and some strategy on Coach Budenholzer’s side of things and how he helps generate offense in ball movement will take time.
While it remains impossible to know exactly where Dorsey could fit in the current or future version of the Hawks, it’s enjoyable to speculate about the prospects of the player. His shooting and offensive talent make him a tantalizing addition to the Hawks, and despite his flaws, he should be able to make an impact right away.
It would make sense that at the very least Dorsey can impact the Hawks on the offensive end. Coach Bud will be able to use a shooter regardless of his flaws off the ball. Dorsey has shown that if you have pieces around him, you can hide his defensive weaknesses and ball stopping tendencies.
Choosing to bring Dorsey off the bench for stretches of the game against weaker guards is a great chance for Bud and the Hawks to gauge how his skill set will translate to the NBA. Hiding him on guards that are weaker offensively will allow Dorsey to slowly develop as an off-ball talent and scoring threat for the Hawks.
While the Hawks grow as a team, there will be certain aspects of the team to enjoy and savor as a basketball fan. Watching how Dorsey grows as an NBA player could be one of those joys. He’ll certainly have his ups and downs, but the offensive flashes we’ll see from him will make everyone more patient for his downs. Who knows, perhaps given the developmental structure and time, Dorsey can become the Hawks very own “Greek Freak.”