A huge part of the Nets roster is up in the air. I don’t just mean the rotation either, there is a good amount of players on this roster who don’t have a set position yet. This has lead to a number of discussions about who should play where, and in all of this excitement, there is one name that is usually forgotten by Nets fans (shoot, I do it myself), and that is Keyon Dooling. More specifically, Keyon Dooling and the position he will play this year.
We have touched upon this a little while back when it was a topic of discussion for most Nets fans, but then the preseason started, and that sort of shifted our attention away from Keyon and towards the guys who have been playing, and even though Keyon might be missing another week or two, I wanted to bring this up once again.
Now, nobody really knows what position Keyon will be playing when he comes back, not even the players (remember Rafer’s “friend” said he wanted out because he didn’t want be the third string PG behind both Devin Harris and Keyon Dooling), but like I said in the past, the smart move would be to play him at the SG spot exclusively next year.
Now this doesn’t have anything to do with Rafer Alston keeping him happy, the numbers just tell us that Keyon Dooling plays better when he is the off-guard, not bringing the ball up. For most of his career, Keyon Dooling has been called “a tweener” or “a combo-guard,” and despite playing most of his minutes at PG last year (according to 82games.com Keyon played 30% of PG minutes and 22% of SG minutes), it is apparent that he is a better player at the shooting guard both offensively and defensively.
Despite attempting more FGs per 48 minutes as a PG (14.1 vs. 13.5), Keyon was more productive at the SG spot. His PER as a shooting guard was 15.6 (slightly above average) while his PER as a point was 14.9 (slightly below average). He also scored and shot at a better rate per 48 minutes from the 2-spot (18.1 Pts/48 – eFG 55.7 vs. 16.8 Pts/48 – eFG 49.3). To me, this makes sense because when watching games last year, it just seemed like Keyon was more comfortable shooting corner/wing 3 point shots off the catch than he was shooting mid-range jumpers off the dribble (as it turns out, that was the case. Keyon shot 42.1% from 3 and only 30.6% on his long-two point shots). The only offensive numbers that weren’t better when Keyon was playing the two was assists per 48 minutes and Free Throw Attempts per 48 minutes. This makes sense, because with Keyon running the point, he has more opportunities to get assists and there is a better chance that he will be fouled.
Despite being a weak defender at both guard spots last year, Keyon Dooling did a better job limiting the impact his opponent had when he was playing the shooting guard position. Keyon gave up about the same amount of points per 48 minutes (20.7 as a PG vs. 20.4 as a SG), but as a shooting guard he did a solid job of keeping his opponents’ other numbers down. His opponents’ eFG percentage was worse when he was a shooting guard (51.6% vs. 54%), and he kept his opponent of the boards more often as a shooting guard (4.4 rebounds/48 vs. 5.4 rebounds/48). The latter number is a little perplexing at first, but when you think about it, it does make sense. Dooling isn’t the quickest guy in the NBA, and it was tougher for him to keep speedy PGs off the glass. It was easier for him to body up and be more physical with the slower shooting guards.
To put everything together, we can look at the +/- stat and see just how much more successful Keyon Dooling was when he was playing the shooting guard position. As a PG, Keyon’s Net +/- was -175 (-7.9 per 48 minutes) meanwhile, his +/- as a SG was -55 (-2.9 per 48 minutes).
With CDR now the frontrunner for the starting SF position (more on this tomorrow), Keyon is going to be a very important piece for the Nets. CDR’s shift to the SF position means Keyon Dooling is now the second string SG behind Courtney Lee, meaning that Keyon will be the one the second unit counts on for it’s consistent shooting/scoring now that CDR’s points will shift to the starting 5. With him being so important, it only makes sense to maximize his impact and that means playing him at the SG spot exclusively this year.