Oregon Basketball in the NBA: Tyler Dorsey Player Preview

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 12: Tyler Dorsey #2 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena on January 12, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 12: Tyler Dorsey #2 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena on January 12, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With the NBA preseason tipping off tomorrow, and the real action following suit nineteen days later, I’m ready to start taking a look at the Oregon Basketball alums in the League heading into the 2018-19 NBA season. And here’s volume one: Tyler Dorsey.

All stats via SportsReference.com 

Tyler Dorsey, a 6’5 combo guard who helped lead the Oregon Basketball squad to their first Final Four appearance under Dana Altman, is heading into his second year with the Atlanta Hawks surrounded by uncertainly — from his role on his team to his position on the court to whether or not he’ll even be kept by his team. However, Tyler showed numerous bright spots during his first season in ATL, but he will have to do more on both ends of the court to garner any serious long-term consideration from his front office.

The Basics

2017-18 Team: Atlanta Hawks (24-58 record in 2018, 15th in the Eastern Conference)

2018-19 Team: Atlanta Hawks

Drafted: Round 2, Pick 41 by Atlanta Hawks

2017-18 Stats: 56 GP, 17.4 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 1.4 apg, 2.3 rpg, .377%FG, .362%3P

Last Year

As a rookie coming into the league, Dorsey did not have a defined position or role, which isn’t uncommon for most players in this day and age. However, Tyler and the Hawks struggled to find him a perfect spot on last year’s team. He was often floated out as a two-guard/shooting guard (86% of his minutes were recorded at this position) and less as the primary ball-handler/point guard (14% of his minutes). Typically, during his college career, Dorsey split time with Payton Pritchard at the point guard spot, with the other playing off-ball. As a result, Dorsey was a little out of his comfort zone playing almost entirely off-ball. For Tyler, his first year, despite not putting up lucrative scoring numbers, was a vital one in terms of experience. He will assuredly see an increase in minutes this year, especially on a obviously rebuilding and super-young Hawks team.

He said over the summer in an interview with HoopsHype.com that he “wants to surprise a lot of people next year.” I think there’s definitely an avenue for him to do just that. But it will take a lot of hard work and focus over the coming months. If his summer league performance is any indication of what’s to come, Dorsey could be in for quite a year. Even though he only played in two games, he averaged a solid 19.5 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists per contest. Not bad. Heading into year two, and his first under new coach Lloyd Pierce, he has a lot to work on though, on both sides of the ball.


As mentioned, Dorsey scored just over 7 points per game (7.2 for our perfectly punctual readers) and shot a mere .377% from the field. That number isn’t great, I’ll admit. However, it’s important to take into consideration that nearly half of Dorsey’s shot attempts came from behind the three-point arc, where he shot a respectable .362%. That’ll get it done in the NBA. But we already knew that was his strength. The questions lie with a.) diversifying his overall offensive game and presence on this end of the court, and b.) raising his shooting percentage while also increasing his volume of shots — easier said than done.

A year ago, Dorsey thrived off his jump shooting ability. He’s always had a smooth jumper with great mechanics and the ability to fire it off quickly. That translated to the NBA quite well. In watching him last year, I noticed that a major component of his offense was dribbling off screens and taking pull-up jumpers, like a slower 6’5 Kevin Durant (Ok, I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself with comparisons of KD already. I’ll slow it down). Those shots are not as easy as Durant makes them look. Some pundits would even say those shots are the toughest and least effective in basketball. I beg to differ, but that’s beside the point. I bring this up to warn you not to be reviled by Dorsey’s poor shooting numbers. He’s taking tough shots. And as long as he gets in the gym and gets more game reps, those numbers should go up. Again, I’m not nearly as concerned about his jump-shooting as I am with other aspects of his offense.

Now, for everything else. Dorsey has to find a way to be more effective off the ball in year two. Way too often, Tyler would sit around the three-point line waiting for a catch-and-shoot three. The opportunity for that will go down this year. Atlanta may not have made one winning-based move in the offseason, but one thing they did do was draft shooters. Their three first round draft picks: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman were all above average three-point shooters in college — we all know about Trae Young’s limitless range. I guess the Hawks are going for a poor man’s Warriors look (We’ll see how that works out. Not well is my guess). With these additions, there’s plenty of shooting on the team now. Quality shooting? That’s another question. But they have shooting nonetheless. Tyler has to find a way to impact the game in other ways to stay on the court. Now, an improvement on defense would be helpful, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Dorsey needs to become a more dynamic off-ball presence. He’s a good spot-up shooter, yes, and he should try to get open looks, but he should also try running off screens without the ball. In the ball-handling role in pick-and-roll scenarios, Dorsey excelled. But off-ball screens are also incredibly effective in the modern game, and Dorsey should more often take advantage of this. Plays like this should become customary for Tyler in year two:

This is a great play by Dorsey. Since he’s a respected three-point threat, his man has to stay out on him. The pick-and-roll on this play draws the defender’s attention, and Dorsey takes advantage of the split-second lapse of attention and attacks the basket. These are the positive and impactful plays he can and needs to make to stay on the floor even longer. He has the ability, (shown above), let’s just hope he continues to showcase it more and more.


Ok, I promise I won’t take nearly as long on my analysis of Dorsey’s defense as compared to his offense. And I’ll go ahead and apologize, because, to be blunt, Tyler just wasn’t good enough on defense in his inaugural season.

For any numbers junkies, he posted a subpar 114 DRtg (Defensive Rating per 100 possessions). That is an ugly number. Too add salt to the wound, his DBPM (Defensive Box Plus/Minus) was lowly -2.5. These numbers are very poor, but it’s not all Tyler’s fault. Obviously, given the Hawks putrid 2018 record of 24-58, they clearly suck on both ends of the floor. However, even for the Bad News Hawks, Dorsey’s numbers were low. his DBPM ranked 18th out of 22 Hawks players in 2018. Yikes!

Far too often, Dorsey lets more athletic shooting guards get past him on their way to the rim. What surprised me was how lethargic he sometimes looked on D. I know he wasn’t an All-American defensive player at Oregon, but come on, he wasn’t terrible on that end. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you make the jump to the NBA: guys are bigger, faster and stronger. Dorsey must add muscle to his frame to make up for the defensive deficiencies his below-average lateral quickness cause. If he doesn’t, it could be another year of being a 9th or 10th man.

Final Thoughts

Dorsey can play at the highest level basketball. He can. Whether or not he will hinges mostly on this upcoming season. On a historically depleted Atlanta Hawks roster, Dorsey will be given opportunities second-round picks like him aren’t often afforded. He needs to make the most out of his situation. The future of the Hawks is cloudy at best, and Trae Young — the new perceived franchise centerpiece — has a long voyage to NBA stardom, should he ever get there. Experience and leadership on this team are almost non-existent. The same goes for reliable scoring and defense. Dorsey can certainly provide the goods on offense. There are holes everywhere on this young rebuilding Hawks team. Let’s hope Tyler can take full advantage during his sophomore campaign.