|What Keyon Dooling does for Avery Bradley||12.10.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers has long been an admirer of veteran guard Keyon Dooling. So much so that Rivers tried on three occasions to get Dooling to join his teams. He finally got his man after Danny Ainge traded a second round pick to Milwaukee to acquire him via a trade exception created in the Marquis Daniels deal to Sacramento last season.
“It’s a good pickup for us,” Rivers said. “He’s a veteran guard. He can play one or two, he can shoot, he can really defend. He’s high character, which is an area we were looking for and he’s a good fit for this group. He’s hungry. He wants to win. Those are the players we wanted. We wanted players who are over themselves and who are hungry and want to play with a sense of urgency.”
It’s safe to say the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve had an opportunity to play before a few good coaches in my career,” Dooling said after his practice with the team on Saturday. “Stan Van Gundy [and] Lawrence Frank have been very influential in my career, my progress as a player and a person. Doc has been somebody who’s been a great mentor to me. I always pick his brain every time I see him because I’m fascinated by him. He’s awesome. He’s everything that a player like me would want to be.”
The Celtics will be Dooling’s sixth team in an 11-year career that began in Los Angeles with the Clippers and took him to Miami, Orlando, New Jersey and Milwaukee and he’s excited about the chance to play for a contender.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “Going into the season having an opportunity to play for a ‘chip every year. I haven’t really had a legitimate chance to win the ‘chip sing I played with Shaq back in Miami, so I’m licking my chops, man.”
Dooling is expected to primarily backup Rajon Rondo at the point and at 6-foot-3, he’s capable of defending both backcourt positions in the right matchup. He’s also a solid 3-point shooter. As Dooling said, “They used to use the word, ‘tweener.’ As my career progressed and I earned some respect around the league I became a combo guard.”
That’s basically what he is and he’ll essentially fill the role that Delonte West played last season. But Dooling brings an extra benefit to the table because with him on board, the Celtics no longer feel that they force Avery Bradley into a point guard role. “Keyon has created us two players because Avery is better this way,” Rivers said.
From the moment Bradley was drafted it was unclear whether he would develop into a point guard. He had limited experience in his one collegiate season at Texas at the position and he never really had a chance as a rookie after an ankle injury kept him out of summer league and part of training camp. In limited minutes he clearly struggled running the team.
“You watched Avery last year and I thought he was paralyzed when he had to run the position, when he had to call plays,” Rivers said. “I thought he was really good when he was just playing. So that told me let’s make him that and stop trying to make him a point.”
The Celtics love his defensive ability and see the potential for him to fill a similar role to the one Tony Allen played so well during the run to the NBA finals in 2010. Bradley doesn’t have the size to guard forwards like Allen does, but he can be a fullcourt on-the-ball defender and also cover off-guards.
“What we want him to do is get on the floor,” Rivers said. “He has to earn that, but defensively he can really help us. I feel like he has to play all year so when the playoffs start he’ll be able to guard guys.”
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