Atlanta Hawks combo guard Tyler Dorsey recently spoke with HoopsHype about his growth since he was selected in the 2017 NBA draft.
The former Oregon star, who played very well during his time in the G League last year, averaged 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists at the Vegas Summer League earlier this month.
Tell me about how you’ve kept busy since your rookie season ended for the Hawks.
TD: It’s been a good summer for sure. I felt like summer league went pretty well even though I had a couple little injuries. Since we got the new coaching staff, I started working with them right away. I was in the gym two or three times a day before Las Vegas. A lot of my work ethic showed off at summer league.
What were some of the main things you were working on this summer?
TD: I broke down what I was doing on the court last season, reading the floor and becoming a better playmaker. I’m working on perfecting my footwork and every aspect of the game I’m trying to score on all three levels – basket, midrange and beyond the arc. I was hitting the weight room more often and we were just attacking the summer. I’m working with the new staff and my trainer, it’s a good mixture of both. I’m about to get right back at it.
How has your size or game changed since you entered the league about a year ago?
TD: I don’t focus on bulking, I try to put on pure strength and I think I’ve gotten a lot stronger over the summer. I’m building strength and speed. I don’t want to put on any bad weight or speed. I’ve got a couple more months until I am back in Atlanta for training camp. I’m going to do what I did best during my whole career as a 3-and-D guy who can really score and make plays and guard my positions. I’m a combo guard who can play on or off the ball. I want to surprise a lot of people next year.
What were some of the biggest challenges in your first year and how did it help you prepare for your second season?
TD: My first year was interesting because I didn’t play during the first half of the season. I had to get used to that and be patient with my opportunities. When it came, I took the junk minutes seriously and I took advantage of it. I had a nice stretch down the season and I wanted to continue that into the offseason. I learned how the league worked and that helped with summer league as well, I felt confident and more fluid. I’m learning a new system with the coaching staff but it’s a huge advantage to have experience. Your first summer league, you’re thrown into it without knowing much. The whole season was such a great learning tool.
You had some monster rebounding performances. Is that something you worked on and will it show up on the court in the regular season?
TD: I don’t really work on rebounding as much as I just have instincts to crash the glass and reading the ball when it comes off the glass depending on where it was shot from. I have the desire to go get it and I’ll snatch it away. I just love rebounding. It’s a part of me and my game.
What do you think your best trait was as a rookie for the Hawks last year?
TD: I was the sixth or seventh man in the rotation, always studying the opponents the night before. I can be a microwave off the bench and be aggressive.
What are your impressions of new head coach Lloyd Pierce and the coaching staff?
TD: I love coach Lloyd! Our relationship is building slowly and I love what he’s bringing. He’s a great defensive coach and that’s something I want to improve on. I want to be a tenacious defender. I like the culture he’s bringing. He wants to play fast and shoot a lot of three-pointers. It will come with time but I love the energy and I can relate to him and he relates to players. I think it’s such a wonderful hire. I’m looking forward to the future with him.
There’s another big change for the Hawks this offseason, adding rookie Trae Young. How does he fit with Atlanta alongside you?
TD: Trae is definitely a great player. I watched him in college and he can shoot the ball from deep. When he becomes a great playmaker and he is making those great assists he did in summer league, it’s going to be hard to guard him. You’re not going to know what he’s going to do and you’re going to be indecisive. He’s going to bring aspect with hype and energy and I like what he’s bringing to the game. I’m a shooter myself so I like other shooters and he has a great form and a quick release. He should be fine. I think it’ll take time because rookie seasons have ups and downs. I love what he can bring to the table. I really like the edge and energy that Omari Spellman will provide, too. He’s going to be a great pick-and-pop big man. He’s feisty and tenacious on the court.
What are some things you would tell a younger guy now that you’ve been around the league for an entire year?
TD: It’s a long year, you have to keep pushing because anything can happen. You can get thrown into the fire after not playing for a while. Always be ready for your opportunity because it closes fast if you’re not ready for it. That’s what I was always preparing for, I just kept my head down and kept working. You’ve got to have chemistry and come together as a team and we all have to push each other. We try to compete every day and make each other better.
Have you had a chance to speak with fellow former Oregon basketball star Troy Brown, who was drafted by the Washington Wizards?
TD: I saw him at summer league, he played really well back at his hometown in Las Vegas. He was looking pretty good, doing what he does best as the triple threat on offense. He had success getting to the rim, too. It’s good to see another Duck in the league. I know he was the first one-and-done that Dana Altman had. I know I’m going to play him a couple times because he’s on the Wizards, I’m going to see him around for sure.
Your college teammate Jordan Bell is already a champion and Dillon Brooks was often a starter for the Memphis Grizzlies. Are you surprised at all about how much success they’ve had so early?
TD: No, not at all. I knew this even when the draft happened. I couldn’t believe one of us didn’t go in the first round. When they look back at the draft, they’ll understand how many good players we had and what a good team we had. As you can see from our rookie years, we’re making such an impact as second-round picks. I’m happy for Jordan, he got himself a ring and that’s amazing as a rookie. It’s good to see the Oregon guys having so much success and I got to see them at summer league and hang out, which was great.
What did Oregon do to help you three get to where you all are today?
TD: It helped us all in different ways. The practices were so competitive that it made us better as a team. I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff and coach Altman. He puts you through things that help you get ready for the NBA. It helps you win and get better as players every day. To have that connection and the Nike connection is definitely a thing that Dillon and Jordan and I would say helped us in our careers. It helped us big time, it gave us a competitive spirit to have other future pros on your team to battle every day.
Are there any other upcoming plans you’re working on right now on the court?
TD: I might be going to Greece this summer. I’m going to be preparing for the World Games next summer. My mom’s side of the family is Greek. I think we’ll see some of the Antetokoumpo brothers out there. I played for the U19 team the summer before I went to Oregon. I’ve had a chance to practice and play pick-up games with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the squad. He’s a crazy athlete with speed and can handle the ball. He can do everything on the floor. When he finds the three-pointer consistently, he’s going to be one of the top players in the league. Adding a jumper is going to take his game to the next level. It’s one of my goals to play with them in the Olympics. I love it there and it’s so beautiful, especially the islands.
What are some things that you like to do away from basketball when you have free time?
TD: I like to go golfing, I go to the aquarium. It’s one of the nicest I’ve seen. I like to venture out and get different foods. I spend a lot of time on Top Golf. My dad and I just went to hit yesterday, that was really nice.
I saw your dog in your photo on Twitter. I’d love to hear more about that guy!
TD: That’s my dog in Atlanta. I got him when I first got there. He’s a French bulldog. He’s about a year old now. That’s my partner. Whenever I’m home, we go to the little dog park and go for walks. He’s out in Los Angeles now with my other dog from home. He enjoys it out here, too.