One of the reserves that Danny brought back from last season was Keyon Dooling. And, bringing Keyon back wasn't a last second decision because Danny told the rookies at the draft that #51 wasn't available when they were picking their numbers. Keyon had some good moments on the court last season, especially after Avery was injured but his stats don't exactly jump off the page. He averaged 4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists while shooting 40.5% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc. But his stats and on court production aren't what make this move a good one.
Keyon Dooling's true worth on the team is as a glue guy and veteran leader in the locker room. He is often described as the consummate teammate and a future coach and he has the respect of every player on the team, including Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. From an article on Green Street.
At halftime of Game 5, he laid it on the starters. Dubbed a “sermon from Rev. Dooling” by Brandon Bass, he told them to play for each other.
Dooling declined to go into specifics on his halftime talk, saying, “That ain’t for me to talk about. That’s for others to talk about. I don’t need to self-promote my halftime speeches.”
The specifics don’t matter as much as the intent and there’s no doubt his words had an impact.
“It’s one thing for the coach to say it, it’s a whole different ballgame when somebody in the locker room says it,” Rivers said. “It’s tough for the starters to say it to each other because it was them. You need a guy to do it with credibility and Keyon has that.”
How does a player who’s been out and out of the rotation and plays less than 10 minutes a night earn credibility on a team stacked with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers?
“With his work ethic,” Rivers said. “Credibility to me is consistency. If you’re consistent with your actions every day, whether things are going well for you or not, you think about Keyon there’s been times when he’s been out of the rotation, he’s been injured. But he’s a pro. When you have that it’s pretty easy to follow.”
Every team needs a guy like this that commands the respect of everyone and is willing to take on the mantle of leadership. Yes, the Celtics have KG, but sometimes he commands fear along with that respect.
And then, there is Dooling's relationship with Rondo. We all have heard stories about how Rondo is moody and an enigma. He was close to Perk and took his trade very hard. Before last season, Ray and Rondo had occupied lockers next to each other but reportedly never interacted with each other. Then, last year Keyon moved into the locker next to Rondo and they became fast friends. From the Globe:
Dooling’s return likely will please Rondo, as they developed a close relationship and shared long conversations about basketball at their neighboring lockers.
And finally, there is the article in the Sun Sentinel that discusses the influence that Dooling has had on the Pistons' 2nd year point guard, Brandon Knight.
I asked the talented young point guard about his mentors in the current NBA.
He then talked enthusiastically about Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, the former Miami Heat and Dillard High player who serves as vice president of the NBA Players Association.
"He’s given me so much advice; I talk to him all the time," Knight said. "A lot of the advice he gives me is off-the-court stuff, not necessarily basketball. When you have a basketball player that’s been in the league for so long and you’ve been doing it your whole life, you sometimes like to talk about stuff other than basketball. You do things other than basketball." Life lessons, you might call those.
The Celtics have 5 rookies coming into camp including Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, Dionte Christmas, and Jamar Smith. They also have other young players including Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green who can all use the kind of influence around them that Keyon Dooling provides. He will be a glue guy in the locker room, a role model for the younger players, and a calming influence on the Celtics' mercurial point guard. As such, his influence will go far beyond the box score. Character is learned and I can't think of a better guy for our players to learn it from than Reverend Dooling.
I agree with all you've said--but I do wish he was better at running the offense. It is not so much that he doesn't create opportunities for his teammates but that he is slow to recognize an advantage and then slow to deliver the pass. Often the open shot has evaporated before he initiates the seizing of the opportunity.