Mike Dunleavy's point-guard carousel

Mike Dunleavy's point-guard carousel
September 12, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Mark Strotman

Mike Dunleavy is no stranger to new point guards.

Though he's played for only three teams in his 11-year career, nine different times his teams have had a leading assist man. Just twice (Baron Davis in Golden State, Jamaal Tinsley in Indiana) has the top passer from the year before been the leader the next season on one of Dunleavy's teams. And he hasn't quite played with John Stockton and Magic Johnson as a pro, either. All-American Jay Williams may have spoiled him at Duke, but after Gilbert Arenas and Davis -- both All-Stars -- the next best court general Dunleavy has played with is Brandon Jennings.

It's been an up-and-down career for the former No. 3 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft -- Denver picked Nikoloz Tskitishvili next, though the Suns selected Amare Stoudemire six picks later -- but Dunleavy has carved himself out a niche as a solid role player. Now 32, he'll provide the Bulls with outside shooting off the bench, much like he did the last two seasons in Milwaukee.

And for as good as Arenas and Davis were, Dunleavy will play this season with the best point guard he's ever had. Through four seasons Derrick Rose has averaged 21.8 points per game and averaged 7.8 assists per game the last two seasons. His scoring averages are higher than any point guard Dunleavy ever played with, and only Davis and Tinsley averaged more assists, albeit in a less efficient fashion than the former MVP.

[MORE: How much of an impact will Mike Dunleavy make for Bulls?]

So how will Dunleavy fare playing alongside Rose? Certainly he's used to playing with new point guards -- Rose will be his 10th new leading passer -- and Rose has an uncanny knack for finding open shooters. A good passer can help shooters, but more so Rose's ability to draw defenses away from the perimeter and double teams when he drives to the lane will be key.

The aforementioned up-and-down career makes it difficult to find trends in Dunleavy's numbers, but the small forward has done well with scoring point guards.

If we throw out Dunleavy's rookie season -- he averaged just 16 minutes per game -- and his 2008-09 season, when knee surgery cost him all but 18 games, the five seasons in which his point guards scored the most points per game, Dunleavy produced some of his best shooting seasons.

Year Dunleavy's PG Dunleavy's 3-point FG% Dunleavy's PPG
2004-05 Baron Davis (19.5 ppg) 38.8% 13.4
2005-06 Baron Davis  (17.9) 28.5% 11.5
2010-11 Darren Collison  (13.2) 40.2% 11.2
2011-12 Monta Ellis  (17.6) 39.9% 12.3
2012-13 Brandon Jennings  (17.5) 42.8% 10.5

Those five seasons Dunleavy shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the four other seasons, with point guards (Nick Van Axel, Tinsley, Tinsley and Earl Watson) who scored fewer points, Dunleavy shot 36.8 percent. It's worth noting, however, that Dunleavy's best season from 3 came in 2007-08, when Tinsley averaged 11.9 points. Dunleavy shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Still, Dunleavy's second, third and fourth best seasons as a perimeter shooter came in the last three seasons. Again, he continues to carve out that niche from beyond the arc and is excelling in it. Rose will do wonders freeing up Dunleavy, but just as much as it will come from his stellar passing, his scoring will be just as important.