Dorsey Proving Himself With Increased Minutes

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

Perhaps it is reasonable to still call Tyler Dorsey a West Coast kid.  

In January, Dorsey was pleased to catch up with friends and family on a road trip that took the Hawks through both Oregon and California, the states where he played college and high school basketball. And Dorsey plans to use the upcoming break to fly home and attend the NBA's All-Star Weekend. Staples Center is just 10 miles from his alma mater, Maranatha High School.

"I've got to go," Dorsey said. "I don't know when the next All-Star Game will be in L.A. back home, so I'm definitely going for my little stint." 

When Dorsey attends the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars event Saturday, not only will he be supporting teammates Taurean Prince and John Collins, but he will also be rooting for Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, with whom he played two seasons at the University of Oregon.

Despite the tight bond between him and Brooks, don't expect Dorsey to be quiet about the Hawks' recent win over the Grizzlies.

"I'll probably chop it up (at All-Star Weekend) and tell him how I feel about it," Dorsey said with a laugh.

If Dorsey really wants to jokingly poke Brooks in the ribs, he might bring up this crossover, a good example of the offensive versatility that Dorsey has given the Hawks. 

One of the things that Dorsey does well is that when he handles the ball, he probes the defender's tendencies with a side-to-side dribble across his body. If the defender commits, Dorsey has the ball control to yank it back in the opposite direction and create a driving lane.

But Dorsey's offensive arsenal extends beyond the occasional crossover. He is shooting 36.4 percent on threes. When he gets in the paint, he makes crisp, decisive moves that result in a quality shot. He is also starting to live up to the billing that General Manager Travis Schlenk laid out for him on draft night. Schlenk said then that he thought Dorsey could develop into a secondary ballhandler and creator.

First and foremost, Dorsey is a scorer, a fact noted by his coach. 

"Tyler has a knack for scoring," Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said after a recent game. "We want him to continue to work on his defensive activity, getting better. The more he plays, the more he’ll have to learn to read and see the game. I like his aggressiveness, I like the way he’s playing."

Dorsey has played 20 or more minutes in a game five times, all within the past month. In those games, Dorsey is averaging 11.8 points and 3.2 assists per game on 45.5 percent shooting from the field. The most impressive part of those five games is that despite playing 124 minutes and dishing out 16 assists, Dorsey only turned the ball over once. 

The NBA stat 'turnover ratio' measures the number of turnovers that a player averages per 100 possessions used. Dorsey's turnover ratio for the season is 5.2, the 4th-best number among players who have appeared in 30 games while averaging 10 or more minutes. There are 323 players on the list. For a ballhandling guard to have so few turnovers is amazing. For a rookie guard to be so mistake-free is doubly impressive. 

When opponents guard his pick-and-roll plays with two defenders, Dorsey is making the right play. When opponents guard his pick-and-roll plays with more than two defenders, he is finding open teammates on the periphery and still making the correct play.  

Dorsey said that getting more minutes has helped him shake some rust.

"I'm getting my wind back, actually. I'm in good condition, but I haven't played (this much) in a long time," he said. "Having that wind up and helps me build for whenever my opportunities come with more minutes to be more conditioned and ready."

Dorsey knows that while his offense will always be an asset for him, the thing that will earn him the most minutes is what he does on the defensive end.

"To be out on the floor, you have to get stops," he said. 

Right now, Dorsey is making enough stops and grabbing enough boards to get out on the floor and show what he can do, and what he does best is to make it difficult for opponents to get stops.