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Author Topic: Player Spotlight - Mike Dunleavy  (Read 17027 times)
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« on: August 28, 2007, 07:21:36 pm »

Mike Dunleavy has been a disappointment thus far in his NBA career. After four up-and-down years in Golden State, he got a fresh start at mid-season last year when he was traded to the Pacers. Will Dunleavy's move to Indiana pay dividends for the Pacers franchise? Will Mike ever fulfill the promise he once held as a versatile college star coming into the NBA?

Mike Dunleavy's problems in the NBA started on draft day, 2002. Golden State made him the third overall selection and living up to that draft position has been an ongoing struggle for the 6-9 guard/forward. In Mike's final college season at Duke he averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest. His coach, Mike Krzyzewski, called Dunleavy "the most versatile player we've had here since Grant Hill".

Mike's lofty draft status came about as a result of his all-around skills and perceived NBA potential, but the Warriors never got the kind of performance they expected out of Dunleavy in his four full seasons in Oakland.

Golden State traded Mike Dunleavy (along with three other players) to Indiana on January 17, 2007. This ended Dunleavy's run in Golden State where he was deemed a bust and the target of constant criticism by Warriors fans. One has to wonder - will things be any better for Mike as he enters his first full season as a Pacer?

Mike Dunleavy does have some things to offer on the basketball court. He is a smart player who has a very good understanding of the game. He runs the court well. He handles the ball well for a player his size. He's a good rebounder, especially as a shooting guard. In fact, a good way to sum up Dunleavy's game is that he is solid in most areas, but not great in any area. This might be okay if he had been the 25th overall pick, but when you are picked third overall "solid" just doesn't cut it.

Another reason Mike's production has been below expectations is that he signed a sizable contract extension while still in Golden State. The deal calls for Dunleavy to make approximately $37.5 million over the next four years. If Mike was making $4 million per year he'd be considered a good value for the money. However, his contributions on the floor haven't lived up to that kind of contract - at least not yet.

So, why hasn't Mike Dunleavy been able to make an impact commensurate with his draft status or hefty contract? To make a long story short, he isn't capable of it.

Dunleavy is not outstanding in any facet of the game and probably never will be. As someone who has a fairly well-rounded game he'd have to raise the level of his play in several areas - or become exceptional in one area - to ever become an All-Star caliber player. It's doubtful he can do either.

Mike is a decent shooter, but is not consistent enough (particularly behind the three-point line) to become a big-time scorer. He has good size, especially at the '2', but he's rarely able to capitalize on that advantage. Defensively, Dunleavy is a player who can be effective as a team defender, but doesn't have the physical tools to be a one-on-one "stopper".

Another issue for Dunleavy is what position should he play? He played quite a bit of small forward for Golden State, but has been used mostly at shooting guard in Indiana. The Pacers are well-stocked with players who can play the '3', so Mike almost has to play in the backcourt. Although he can help the team from that spot, he's a bit miscast as a shooting guard. His skill set and athletic ability are not ideal for a '2', which is one more reason he is engaged in an uphill battle to prove his worth as an NBA player.

Perhaps the biggest reason Mike Dunleavy will never be a star is his mental makeup. He works to improve his skills and gives a solid effort during games. However, he lacks the aggression, killer instinct, and perhaps the toughness necessary to dominate. Even if he had the talent to be an All-Star, he doesn't have the required intangibles.

So, how are we to view Mike Dunleavy? The fact is, Dunleavy is a good NBA player (in 43 games with Indiana last season, he averaged 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game). If he was directly responsible for his lack of hoops stardom, the derision many people feel toward him would be justified. However, if there is blame to be assigned, it should be with the talent evaluators who clearly missed the mark when pegging him as a star in waiting.

For Pacers fans, the best thing to do is acknowledge Mike for what he is, not what he isn't. He's a good complementary player with a decent all-around skill set. As an added bonus, he is a good citizen and the type of person Indiana basketball fans usually embrace.

The main points held against Dunleavy are his status as a third overall draft pick and his bloated contract - neither of which are his fault. Maybe it's time we give this guy a break, lower the expectations and just let him be himself. If we do, we might just see Mike Dunleavy in a whole new light.
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 05:53:43 pm »

should'nt have traded for him anyway
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