Seems that everyone is on a Pacer high right now. Deservedly so, including myself. However save for a couple of posters, it seems Mike Dunleavy continues to be thrown under the bus. Undeservedly so.
In fact, I've read many posts longing for the return of Rush. This puzzles me as I have watched every game Brandon Rush has played in as a Pacer and while he has some value, IMO, he has some serious flaws that has me only looking forward to his return if he plays in a defensive special weapon role off the bench.
I first was going reply several times in several threads explaining why, thus far, we should all be pleased with Mike. Then I decided that I actually had quite a few things to say on the subject.
So in honor of my father I've decided to compare both players in a "Good, Bad, and Ugly" format, oh and also in honor of my father here is dancing banana
Mike Dunleavy is an excellent facilitator of what I call "good" basketball. Mike moves very well without the ball. Makes quick decisions with the ball either shooting, driving or passing. Often cuts and makes his defender work to keep up. He does not allow the offense to stagnate by standing still. If you watch basketball at any level, hell even play pickup bball, the teams that win are the ones that commit to defense and MOVE on offense. Pacer fans of all people should appreciate this as this was Reggie's BEST skill.
Mike is a legit 6'9, maybe 6'10, player with the skill set of a 6'6 player. This has advantages for obvious reasons. But in addition to solid ball handling, passing and court vision. Mike uses his height to pull down very solid rebounding numbers from the SG position.
Mike has the ability to score in many capacities. He can spot up shoot, drive, get to the line, and is probably 2nd only to Granger at shooting off a screen. Mike, save for the SA game, has proven to be quality FT shooter for his career.
Now on to Brandon. Brandon, bar none, is THE best perimeter defender on the team. I feel 100 percent at ease with him guarding anyone in the league on an isolation play save for the few in the league that no one can stop ie Kobe, Lebron, Wade.
Brandon has more physical tools than Mike, other than height. Brandon is stronger and faster (more laterally, not so much in a fast break situation). Brandon has shown to have mostly consistent 3 point shooting ability.
Mike Dunleavy is a streaky shooter. He can always be counted on to suffer through a couple of slumps a year. And while his endurance is improved from last season, I no longer think Mike can play at the same level past about 33 min per game. After that you can really begin to tell Mike's legs are wearing down and his game overall suffers.
Mike defense is known to be pourous. In fact, up until this season, I would have listed this in the "ugly" category. However, I have seen solid respectable individual D from him thus far and even better team D. Mike cannot, nor ever will be able too guard other teams best wing player very well.
However, not many teams have two strong slashers. Still, and you must see Mike in person to appreciate this, he has bulked up considerably. This will help his defense. Last year you could beat Mike with speed or power. Well the older you get, and after knee operations, its harder to get faster. So it appears Mike has worked on not getting overpowered. So as long as Mike isn't responsible for guarding the other team's best wing he will be okay. And he is very knowledgable when it comes to applying double teams, and he has quick hands so he often pokes the ball away from the weakside on slashers.
For all the moving Mike does without the ball, Brandon Rush is equal and opposite reaction. Brandon has speed and leaping ability. He just chooses not to use it on offense. He is entirely too content to park on the side behind the 3 line and wait. Many times I forget Brandon is even in the game because he can just disappear for long periods at a time.
Rarely will you see a cutting Brandon Rush. He has yet to show any decent passing ability as when he recieves the ball behind the line, if he doesn't shoot, he just passes right back to the guy who passed it to him.
Until I see something different, I will elevate Dunleavy's defense from this category. In fact the only thing I want to talk about in this category in relationship to Mike is that I'm not so sure how great of a teammate he is. Now I'm not in the locker room so I cant speak to this a lot of authority, and I don't believe that every player needs to be Mr. Rah Rah. But I often times do notice with a sour look on his face. He is not shy about harping on others for mistakes. Obviously if a player messes up, Mike should say something. However he does not seem so quick to congradulate others when they succeed. I may be reading too much into it but I worry about Mike not fitting in with the rest of the young and seemingly enthusiastic Pacers.
That being said, Mike has never caused problems for the team off the court like Mr. Rush. Who has never seemed real excited to be anywhere. In fact he seems very relaxed and mellow.
Regardless, I'm not actually that concerned with the off the court stuff for Rush. I'm much more concerned about him on the court. And of all the things that displease me with Brandon its this. Last year Brandon played in 82 games, averaged 30.4 min, and shot 89 FTs!!!!! If that wasn't bad enough, he only hit 56 of them for a staggering 62 percent!
Here is a stat for you, Tyler Hansbrough played in 29 games last year, and shot 113 FT's. 24 more attempts than Brandon!!
Actually Brandon has played in 157 games in his career. AND HAS ONLY ATTEMPTED 155 FREE THROWS!!!!! Unacceptable. A starting wing player has got to get to the line in this league. This indicates a helluva lot of standing around. Though this may be a blessing in disguise, as when Brandon goes to the line, statistically he will miss at least one!
I will end saying that Brandon still has a place on this team. We could have used him on Ginobli in that first game. I want to use him in the way we were supposed to use Dahntay Jones. But until he shows an interest in participating in the offense I have no further need of him.