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Thread: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

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    Default Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Tonight I continue my series of analyzing the Pacers returning core players with an examination of where Mike Dunleavy Jr may be able to improve, be used more efficiently by the coaching staff, or may be affected by the new acquisitions on the roster.

    Mike Dunleavy had a breakout year for Coach Jim O'Brien last season. He may have been the Pacers most consistent and steady player, and his production on offense in the Jim O'Brien less structured scheme made his inflated contract much less of an issue for the franchise, at least in the eyes of many.

    However, for the Pacers to make any real progress toward becoming a legitimate playoff contender, another replica of last season for Dunleavy simply won't be sufficient. He will need to continue the arc of improvement and intelligent play that he showed last season. As it is currently today, Dunleavy is probably no better than an average NBA starter at his position.....and that simply isnt good enough for a team with aspirations at at least winning one round in the playoffs.

    Like I said in the introduction, there are going to be three aspects of this player breakdown: What he can improve individually, how he can be used better by the staff, and how the new players acquired may influence his game, both positively and negatively. First, let me tackle the the improvement phase.

    Dunleavy has a nice, basic, fairly well rounded game. He does most things at least fairly well, with the exception of a couple major exceptions. Defensively, Dunleavy is as we all know a fairly big liability, especially when you consider that he plays starters minutes against starting level opponents. In an ideal world, Dunleavy would come off the bench for a good team, but in Indiana, we don't have that luxury.

    There are things defensively that MDJ will never be good at, and we might as well accept that. He will never be a good one on one defender in the open floor, as he lacks the lateral quickness and athleticism to change directions very well. He will never be a physical player, who at least punishes the opponent with strength and brute force in certain situations. This all can be hidden to a certain degree, but it is made more difficult by the fact that Dunleavy plays against higher quality competition for more minutes than his talent level would ideally be suited for.

    But, Mike Dunleavy Jr. does have the physical ability to be a better individual defender than he is, if he can improve in a couple of different areas. First, while he is listed at 6'9", he really defends much smaller than that. It at least should be more difficult for a player to shoot OVER Dunleavy than it is for most players, as Mike way too often doesn't contest shots with his hands (both of them) held high in the sky to influence shooters. MDJ just doesnt take enough pride in my view of creating a missed shot....he sort of gives up on this particular aspect of defense, figuring his responsibility is complete once the shooter elevates upward. Mike needs to concentrate on closing ground on people, and rising up with a shooter, utilizing his above average length to force lower shooting percentages against him.

    Mike contests shots sometimes, just not often enough, consistent enough, or tough enough. He slacks when he is tired, and slacks when his own offensive game is struggling some. Particularly, he seems to play worse defensively when his teammates are playing poorly too, instead of being a "leader" defensively, he tends to follow the crowd.

    Secondly, Dunleavy needs to defend the wing better, particularly before his man catches the basketball. Dunleavy needs to make a much better effort here, forcing his opponent slightly further away from the basket to catch the ball. If he did this, if nothing else he'd have more recovery time if he is beaten, and his teammates would have one more dribble to read and react to help.

    So, as a coaching point defensively, Dunleavy can contest shots much better and more consistently, and he can deny entry passes wings better and harder.

    Offensively, Dunleavy is a weapon, especially when paired with a better player alongside him so he draws a secondary defender against him. Dunleavy runs of screens pretty well, moves and cuts really well when asked to do so, and he feeds the post well from a wing or short corner position.

    Dunleavy has huge room to improve however, and if he could or would develop this, he can drastically increase his overall scoring prowess. I think Mike Dunleavy leaves more points on the floor than any player on the roster due to one major flaw in his game: The inability to post up.

    Dunleavy is guarded constantly by smaller, weaker defending players. He should have the skill to punish teams this way, and to be so adept at it that teams must double him inside or completely change how they play him. Instead, teams all across the league are able to stop him with players 3-5 inches smaller than he is. This is infuriating to me!

    This hurts us in more situations than just Dunleavy posting up in an isolation, pretending like he is Jermaine O'Neal. His inability to catch the ball with his back to the basket and score means that teams can defend him off screens by forcing him to always "curl" toward the lane, knowing that even if their defense is late to keep him from recieving a pass near the bucket, he still is unlikely to score from this position.

    I am somewhat perplexed by Dunleavy's inability to do this, and I'm not sure what the staff could do to improve him. If the Pacers practiced slightly differently than I suspect they do, then they could do "breakdown" drills with perimeter players doing drills on one end, and "post" players playing on the other. One thing I think I might do if indeed the Pacers practice this way is to always play Dunleavy with the bigs in this scenario, and to at least get some quality instruction in this area.

    If Jim O'Brien is coach who looks to develop players instead of just "pigeonhole" them into a position, he maybe would have been utilizing Dunleavy as a post player some this summer, requesting or asking him to be working with people such as Mark Aguirre, Pete Newell, Tim Grgurich, our own Mel Daniels, or other such really good teachers of post play. I think Dunleavy leaves 6-8 points a game on the floor each night by not being able to post up.

    Some of this may be the elusive "confidence" factor. (Those of you who know me know I hate that phrase as a coach). But, maybe Mike has had such low production in that way his entire life that he simply has no desire to go back inside to be better.....I just don't know. I think I'd love to see Dunleavy get in the weight room and work on his upper body, particularly his arms, and get to wear he feels secure enough with the ball in the pained area that he goes up THROUGH people, instead of getting so easily pushed off balance by trying to just go over smaller guys.

    From the perimeter, Dunleavy is possibly our best "post feeder", except now we have no one to be a post up threat. So, that limits his importance to some degree. The drafting of Brandon Rush also serves the same purpose, so Dunleavy will need to improve in order to continue to see the type of game action he is used to.

    T.J. Ford coming in as a ballhandler/lead guard may influence Dunleavy's offensive game more than anyone on our roster, and not necessarily for the better. Ford is a true small point guard, and really can't be used off the ball in any real way I don't think. This will eliminate the real need to have Mike handle the ball and initiate offense as much as he had to last year playing with Travis Deiner and Flip Murray.

    While Rush and Jarrett may not help Dunleavy much, the acquisitions of Roy Hibbert and Rasho Nesterovic should! Why? Because Roy Hibbert particularly, and Rasho somewhat, are both really high quality screeners in my current evaluations. As Dunleavy is by far our best "cutter" without the ball, if the Pacers play more traditionally offensively, Dunleavy could prosper being used like this....as a poor man's Jalen Rose type player when Larry Bird/Rick Carlisle coached us. It remains a big doubt for me whether Jim o'Brien will actually abandon his long held beliefs and system and tweak them to use more baseline screens as his current talent dictates he should......but I've already written about my doubts in that regard ealier this summer.

    Dunleavy became at least a somewhat decent three point threat last year, although his form still looks like he should be so much better than his results actually end up. This may be one of the most maddeningly frustration things about me watching him play.....I've spent hours watching Dunleavy shoot great looking shots only to miss more than his fair share, and I still don't really have a great answer. I wrote about it once on here even (look in the archives if anyone wishes to), but I still after another season of study don't have a real insight into why that is.

    But this year T.J. Ford will be providing the majority of his looks off penetration I think, and like I discussed in T.J.' s thread, I think these shots will be taken from the deep corner areas much more often than last years more likely true wing areas. This is an entirely different shot to master, as your entire spacing, depth perception, and distance is all affected by the deeper penetrating Ford. I hope the Pacers smart brass and scouts have really been concentrating on this, because Dunleavy, Rush, Granger, and the rest of our 3 point gunners need to be able to make that corner three point shot, because the opportunities we take from that spot on the floor I anticipate will increase over 40% this season, and that is a huge jump!

    I know it isnt going to happen most likely, but I think it would be smart of the Pacers to "sell high" on Dunleavy, and use him as sweetener to move Tinsley's contract and improve our financial situation long term. I see both Brandon Rush and Jarrett Jack (playing the "2" in a small ball situation for defense) eating into Dunleavy's minutes and effectiveness. Dunleavy can make me be a liar however, if he improves the things Ive pinpointed for him: Being a post up threat, making the corner three ball, contesting shots, and making it harder for his man to catch the ball to initiate offense.

    How do the rest of you feel Dunleavy can improve his game? What do you see as his big weaknesses and strengths? How do you think the staff can use him better? How do our new players effect him, pro and con? The answers should generate some interesting discussions.

    As always, the above is just my opinion.

    Tbird

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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Tbird, as the resident MDJ fanboy, I would like to commend you on this wonderfully put together article. As far as I know you have hit the nail on the head. As always, you have provided this board with an excellent topic to discuss.

    Mike is a workhorse, and last season never missed a game. The best thing about Mike is that the few times he was hurt during a game he shook it off and came right back in it later. With the acquisition of Brandon Rush, this could also help us "save" Mike for some clutch plays and not wear him out earlier within a game. I really noticed last season that he was a little "over worked" and really wore out twards the end of a game. To an extent, his dexterity was taken for granted by the coaching staff. But if he wanted to play, play him.

    Dunleavy flourishes under Jim O'Brien. I really think that last year was a coming out of his (Golden State) shell and really living up to the potential of the position that he was picked when drafted.

    I really think as long as there is a decent point guard out there, Mike can only go higher up with his game.

    Also, I really can't see anything wrong with him and Danny playing the 2 and 3 postions, let alone together. They both compliment each other in many ways.

    Mike's main course of concern is the fact that his defense needs a little polish. Maybe with a healthy Foster, and with Hibbert in there, there may not need much area for improvement on his defensive skills unless we stick with the 1 on 1 defensive scheme. (Which I think we will.) With that said I really think this offseason is the time that Dun Dun will use to tune up his defensive prowess, and maybe become not only a great offensive player, but a more consistent defensive player.

    As always, I am going to have to strongly disagree with trading Mike, let alone adding him to any trade package. You cannot trade off the only player on the team that plays every game and fits well in the current coach's system that has a consistent shot. The only way I see Mike being traded is if he does something really stupid off the court, or TPTB firing Jim O'Brien.

    With all that said, I really wish we played the Knicks every game this season, I really think he overtook Reggie with the whole "Knick Killer" title. (Granted, most of those games were not meaningful playoff games, but did he really put a beating on them last season!)
    Last edited by duke dynamite; 09-01-2008 at 01:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    After what he showed us last year, I think a strong argument could be made that Dunleavy only has one major flaw to his game, and that's his defense. That would be my primary focus. He doesn't have the phyical tools to ever be a great or probably even a very good defender, but if he can learn enough crafty tricks to become average or better, he'll be a borderline-All-Star quality SG.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    I wish he wouldn't try and dribble it so much, especially through crowds and between his legs.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    While I want him to keep working on his 3-ball (including of course the corner shot), I still think you'd see a much better FG% from him by simply using him in a mid-range game.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    While I want him to keep working on his 3-ball (including of course the corner shot), I still think you'd see a much better FG% from him by simply using him in a mid-range game.
    I'm thinking of when Reggie added his step-in-for-the-18-footer. Mike Dunleavy could do well with that move.
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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    Dunleavy became at least a somewhat decent three point threat last year, although his form still looks like he should be so much better than his results actually end up. This may be one of the most maddeningly frustration things about me watching him play.....I've spent hours watching Dunleavy shoot great looking shots only to miss more than his fair share, and I still don't really have a great answer. I wrote about it once on here even (look in the archives if anyone wishes to), but I still after another season of study don't have a real insight into why that is.
    I know this may seem like a somewhat simplistic answer, but I wondered a lot last year if Dunleavy wasn't playing too many minutes. He's clearly in great shape and plays hard and well the vast majority of his time on the court, but he played a lot of very long stretches last season and had a lot of high minute games. I'm hoping that you're right about Jack and Rush eating into his minutes a bit because I think that playing slightly fewer minutes in shorter stretches during games could make Dun a much more efficient offensive player.
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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    Dunleavy became at least a somewhat decent three point threat last year, although his form still looks like he should be so much better than his results actually end up. This may be one of the most maddeningly frustration things about me watching him play.....I've spent hours watching Dunleavy shoot great looking shots only to miss more than his fair share, and I still don't really have a great answer. I wrote about it once on here even (look in the archives if anyone wishes to), but I still after another season of study don't have a real insight into why that is.
    ???

    He ranked #12 in the NBA in 3FG% (42.4%), and of the 11 people ahead of him, only 4 shot within 100 3PA of his 389. Calling him a somewhat decent three point shooter seems a little biased, in my opinion.

    There is only one main difference in Mike's shot from 07-08 and 06-07. The mechanics are basically identical, but the previous year he had a tendency to drift left or right during the release. He corrected that problem, hence the 11% increase. Diener has the same problem, though he began to correct it very late in the year (which is why I expect Diener's % to rise to at least 36% this year if he gets enough time).

    Also, the addition of TJ Ford will definitely help both Dunleavy and the team, if he's able to do what you've described in your first coach 'em up. Dunleavy's highest % three is a catch and shoot in the corner, and he's an amazing passer from the wing to the corner or into the post (first example I can think of is Dunleavy's quick pass to Kareem Rush for the go ahead 3 vs. Miami, really early in the season...also, a couple of Diener's 3s vs. the Milwaukee comeback late in the season came from these passes).

    For some of the reasons listed above, I think Dunleavy will be more efficient this year. I expect his scoring average to go down slightly, but hopefully he's able to bring more at the other end of the court, as well as improving his assist numbers. Ultimately, I'd prefer to see him come off the bench. I think the Pacers should never start him and Murphy together because of their defensive liabilities, and I think Murphy offers more variety on the offensive end (Dunleavy is the better offensive player, but Murphy allows for better spacing and more offensive rebounding). Only problem is figuring out who to start at SG, because Rush probably isn't the best idea right away (and Jack is a PG, regardless of what O'Brien is thinking).
    Last edited by imawhat; 09-01-2008 at 07:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Yeah, I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with MDJ's 3-point performance last year.

    I really like MDJ on the floor. He just does all the right things and makes everyone else better too, imo.

    If he reads some of this stuff and improves his defense, that would be great. Being the coach's son that he is, I wouldn't put it past him to try and develop that way.

    Your point about lack of low post scoring (for the entire team) is what concerns me a good bit. Deserves its own thread.
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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    I hear what you're saying McKeyFan, but how exactly do you propose we get David Harrison back?

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    With all that said, I really wish we played the Knicks every game this season, I really think he overtook Reggie with the whole "Knick Killer" title. (Granted, most of those games were not meaningful playoff games, but did he really put a beating on them last season!)
    I'm sorry but there is no way in hell he has overtaken Reggie's Knick killer title. The Knicks were actually a very good team when Reggie would do his thing. He actually killed them with some of his play. Mike Dunleavy was just putting last years Knicks team out of there misery.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merz View Post
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    I'm sorry but there is no way in hell he has overtaken Reggie's Knick killer title. The Knicks were actually a very good team when Reggie would do his thing. He actually killed them with some of his play. Mike Dunleavy was just putting last years Knicks team out of there misery.
    Seconded.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    What if the FO is really focusing on keeping MDjr and moving Granger? We have Rasho MIA and we have Danny still awaiting extension negotions and Tinsley in need of players to package with him to move him.... hmmmmm

    OK... I don't really believe all of that.

    ....or do I?

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bball View Post
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    What if the FO is really focusing on keeping MDjr and moving Granger? We have Rasho MIA and we have Danny still awaiting extension negotions and Tinsley in need of players to package with him to move him.... hmmmmm


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    I would be slightly open to such a trade for a really good low post threat--our biggest weakness right now. But after Elton Brand was moved, I don't know if there's anyone out there available.
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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merz View Post
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    I'm sorry but there is no way in hell he has overtaken Reggie's Knick killer title. The Knicks were actually a very good team when Reggie would do his thing. He actually killed them with some of his play. Mike Dunleavy was just putting last years Knicks team out of there misery.
    I understand what you are talking about, but he really spanked them this year...

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    With all that said, I really wish we played the Knicks every game this season, I really think he overtook Reggie with the whole "Knick Killer" title. (Granted, most of those games were not meaningful playoff games, but did he really put a beating on them last season!)
    Please step back and take a moment to reflect on what you just said.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    I understand what you are talking about, but he really spanked them this year...
    Yeah, he was basically kicking a dead dog while it was down while Reggie was ripping the hearts out of human beings. It doesn't take a Pacer fan to recognize how ludicrous it is to compare Dunleavy's accomplishments last year to what Reggie Miller did.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    I just see Mike as a SF in a point guards mentality. He sometimes forgets that he is taller and does not utilize it properly. I think mainly that is due to the fact that throughout high school and even freshman year at Duke he was 6 ft 4ish. He hit like 6 9 in like one year spurt. he was recruited to duke as a point guard since that is what he played in high school. His dad coached him when he was very young to be a point guard. I think most people would have a hard time understaning the difference on how to play defensively and offensively from a PG to a SF. that is why i think he excelled as a SG. it gives a him a little bit of both. I totally agree that they need to get him posting up in practice a lot more. His shooting stroke will never be out fo this world but i think it is much better than average from outside the arc. Tbird i have been reading your threads for a while now and honestly I finally get to say this....You are always veyr close to being on the money and i appreciate you taking time out of your day writing those. I always think they are well crafted.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by imawhat View Post
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    ???

    He ranked #12 in the NBA in 3FG% (42.4%), and of the 11 people ahead of him, only 4 shot within 100 3PA of his 389.
    This shocked me, good for Dun, good for the Pacers.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    I have one comment on Mike Dunleavy that sums up why he isn't a better player. STRENGTH. For his body, he needs to add strength, mostly in his legs. He has scrawny legs, which contributes to having a smaller upper body. He is in great shape, however he doesn't have the strength to excel late in games. He could really use the strength to help him drive to the basket and rebound more. ALL players should rebound especially someone who is 6'9" playing guys 6'5". I think Dunleavy is a terrific technical basketball player. He could use more strength to utilize his capabilities. Example: Ron Artest is about as strong as humanly possible and the things he excels at are the things Dunleavy sucks at. Dunleavy is a much better technical player than Artest, just imagine what a stronger Dunleavy could be.

    Murphy and Dunleavy should talk to Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds. They might be able to help.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Quote Originally Posted by d_c View Post
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    Please step back and take a moment to reflect on what you just said.
    Quote Originally Posted by d_c View Post
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    Yeah, he was basically kicking a dead dog while it was down while Reggie was ripping the hearts out of human beings. It doesn't take a Pacer fan to recognize how ludicrous it is to compare Dunleavy's accomplishments last year to what Reggie Miller did.
    Boy, you guys are getting really defensive about this...maybe some Prozac will lighten the mood.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    One thing about Junior...

    They always talk about how guys are "coach's sons", but they never talk about the impact on a guy who's a "bad coach's son."

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Until Dun does this in the playoffs against NY then the comparison is incomplete. Since the Knicks won't make the playoffs until 2010 and Dun may not be a Pacer, I think this maybe the last time it is discussed.

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    Default Re: Coach 'em up, season 2: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

    Dun would be ideal off of the bench. But by the team we get someone or develop someone to be our fulltime SG Dun's skill may drop.

    The older Dun gets:
    His skill set will be refined beyond his dwindling athletic nature.

    or

    The dwindling athletic nature will overshadow his skill set.

    Is Dun a pure shooter in the mold of Kerr or Barry? Once he gets older he may not be able over compensate the lack of athletic ability.

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    By JayRedd in forum Indiana Pacers
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-15-2007, 03:17 PM

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