With the most exciting moments of the offseason behind us, Celtics Town is counting down the Celtics’ roster from 16 to one. We’ll offer speculation on the role each player has to play, and where they’ll be in the rotation as we look towards the upcoming season. If you missed the last column in this series you can check it out here.
Keyon Dooling cruises in at No. 11 on our roster countdown, and after last year I wouldn’t blame you for questioning why. Dooling averaged a paltry 4 points, .8 rebounds and 1.1 assists on 40.5% shooting (33.3% from downtown), leaving me mostly disappointed after his early season outburt against Miami (18 points on 50% shooting). This season the Celtics are so deep at the two-guard spot (five at that position by my count) that there’s no real need for Dooling there, which is fine since I think he’ll predominantly play the point.
Dooling’s career doesn’t indicate a stellar ability to create for others, but few other options exist. When Rondo is healthy and on the bench, I think Terry and Bradley will spend a lot of time together in the backcourt sharing the ball-handling duties. But if Rajon goes down with the injury someone will have to fill in as a full-time point. Terry doing so could really take away from his offensive game, and Bradley’s predominantly an off-ball player whose ball-handling skills are still suspect at best.
Thus, Dooling. Last year the C’s needed him to provide a little offensive lift, but with this years offseason additions his talents are best used running the offense if Rondo get’s sidelined. Dooling’s no slouch on defense either — remember, he helped turn a couple games Boston’s way during the postseason (plus, he was the only defender who didn’t consistently go flying into Wade in the playoffs every time he up-faked, so there’s that). You can’t go wrong keeping an emergency point guard on the active roster.
Dooling’s real value, however, lies as a chemist. A position which had been more or less vacant for the Celtics since the departure of James Posey, the chemist might be the most underrated role in the NBA. If you can find a guy who plays 10 minutes a game but can still command the respect of Kevin Garnett, he’s probably worth keeping around. Plus, Dooling seems to get Rondo a lot better than most people — his quotes about Rajon last season were telling, and probably make him the NBA’s second-best locker room philosopher behind Shane Battier:
“It’s funny because there were a lot of people who didn’t necessarily talk before the game. John Stockton was a guy who never talked before the game, never signed autographs or anything like that and he was known as a gentleman and a saint so the spin that Rondo has is definitely a misconception. If you ask the guys in the locker room, I’d tell you that everybody is with him. If I have to go down a dark alley, I want to go down there with him. As a matter of fact, behind him because he’s a great leader,” said Dooling.
As an added bonus, Rondo actually listens to Dooling:
“One of the biggest adjustments he made to his game this year, something we talked about, is not hitting the floor so much. He would always be on the floor, on the floor, on the floor. I’m like, ‘Young fella, how long are you trying to play? You can’t be trying to play long because the ground doesn’t move.’ He’s done a great job of staying off of the ground. He’s just tough as nails. He’s tough as nails.”
Dooling may bring a veteran presence to the point guard position to help fill in the gaps this season, but his contributions behind the scenes should prove most valuable. For those, I’m happy to have the Reverend back for another year.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter, @OffensiveG.