- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Late in the season, Keyon Dooling provided this sort of boundless energy on the floor for Boston.Over the three weeks leading up to the start of the new league year on July 1, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2011-12 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the fifth in the series of report cards:
Player: Keyon Dooling
2011-12 averages: 4 ppg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 rpg, 14.4 mpg
2011-12 salary: $2.2 million
Season in a paragraph: Dooling was brought in to be a stabler version of Delonte West. Ironically, he battled hip and knee issues for much of the first half of the season, preventing him from making much of an impact until after the All-Star break. Dooling eventually settled into his role, which might have been equal parts on the court (combo guard who provided a boost when his 3-point shot was falling) and off (veteran leader who was not afraid to speak up in the locker room). Dooling put together a nice postseason, ramping up his defensive intensity and providing a consistent outside shot (save for a few games late in the 76ers series). Once Dooling carved out his role, he thrived.
Season highlight: After the 76ers dominated the first half of a pivotal Game 5 in Boston, "Reverend" Dooling (as Brandon Bass has dubbed him) sounded off in the locker room at halftime, not afraid to call out the Celtics' starting unit for lackluster play in a must-win game. The Celtics responded with a dominant second half en route to a 101-85 triumph. Dooling didn't offer much on the floor (0 points, 4 fouls, 2 assists over 9:25), but his locker room leadership was highlighted by his pep talk and proved that his contributions can't quite be measured in standard metrics.
Season lowlight: Dooling missed 16 of 17 games due to hip and knee issues starting in mid-January. After sitting out seven straight games, Dooling returned on Jan. 26 in Orlando, only to re-injure himself and miss the next nine games. It wasn't until late March that things really started to click for Dooling on the court.
Final grade: C+
Teacher's notes: Judging solely by his on-court production, Dooling probably had a D season. He averaged a career low in scoring (three points below his career average), shot below his career averages at all three major spots (40.5 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 74.2 FT%), and his assists disappeared as he struggled to run the offense. What's more, his regular-season defense was mediocre at best. Then in the postseason, Dooling looked like a different player. He was more confident in his shot and showed a lot more intensity on defense. That, coupled with his leadership, helped boost his season grade.
What's next?: After playing for six teams in 12 seasons, Dooling might crave a little stability and said he would be interested in a Boston return. If the core is kept together, he might be a low-cost depth option and his value to the locker room is evident. (We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Dooling was a locker room favorite of the media as well, patiently willing to tackle our questions and giving thoughtful responses. Readers got better insight on this team because Dooling was so accommodating to us.)
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Dooling's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Over the three weeks leading up to the start of the new league year on July 1, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2011-12 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance.