Joey Dorsey is a human foul. Barcelona’s six-foot-seven backup center averaged seven fouls per 40 minutes in 44 appearances in the Spanish league. His very high foul rate is particularly unfortunate because, despite being undersized for his position, Dorsey very well could be the best center in Europe if able to stay on the court long enough. He does not possess a diverse skill-set or is a dominant individual defender but very few players in the continent perform his role and produce per-minute as well as Dorsey does.
His purpose on offense is to catch-and-score out of pick-and-rolls or putbacks and tap back rebounds to extend possessions. And he knows this. 76 of Dorsey’s 86 attempts in 406 Euroleague minutes were at the rim and he finished those at a 73.7% clip. 116 out of his 223 points in 675 ACB minutes came off dunks. Over time Dorsey developed a pretty good understanding that he is not out there to take jump-shots and in his first season with Barcelona he was rarely if ever seen calling for the ball in the post.
Dorsey is such a tremendous pick-and-roll player because he is a lot more athletic than the average European center. He is very fast running to the front of the rim after setting the high screen and leaps off the ground in a pinch. It is no coincidence the best two years of Dorsey’s career were played alongside Marcelinho Huertas, Juan Carlos Navarro and Vassilis Spanoulis on pick-and-roll heavy offenses that suited his abilities perfectly. Coaches prefer to defend the two-man game with just two defenders in order to limit help off shooters but having someone like Dorsey who sucks up so much attention when he dives down the middle paired up with capable jump-shooters off the dribble busts that strategy often. Dorsey is more of a slip screener than a hard screener because he is also very sudden with this move (fake setting the pick and cutting hard) and the split second of advantage makes him essentially impossible to guard if the ball handler can find enough space to lob him the ball properly.
His other method of contributing on offense is crashing the glass. This is another area where his physical profile gives him an advantage due to the combination of his leaping ability and seven-foot-one wingspan, which permits him to grab the ball at a higher point than most of his opponents are capable of and rebound outside his area. His consistent effort hustling after misses should also be well regarded. He ranked third in the Euroleague and fourth in the Spanish league in offensive rebounding rate, grabbing 18% and 15% of Barcelona’s misses, respectively.
Dorsey has shown himself a capable passer at times but because of the nature of his role, he is not put into many situations where the pass is needed of him as he is rarely required to short his rolls and never holds the ball facing up the defense. When crowded around the basket, Dorsey usually tries to force his way up as his upper body strength provides him confidence to try doing so. He is often fouled, which then exposes the most significant flaw in his offensive game. He is a very poor foul shooter, missing 73% of his 83 foul shots in the Euroleague and 56% of his 57 attempts in the Spanish league. Dorsey flexes his body down, brings it up slowly and then pauses mid motion before releasing the ball. None of it looks natural.
The pick-and-roll is also where he most excels on the other end. Being undersized works on his favor, as it allows him to more fluidly shuffle his feet and move laterally. Dorsey has noticeable weight in his frame but is lot more athletically built than players of similar upper body strength like Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Mirza Begic or Ioannis Bourousis. His weight at no point slows him down. Barcelona has its centers showing and recovering on the side pick-and-roll and sliding back to contain dribble penetration in the middle high pick-and-roll. Dorsey is a fit as his long arms permit him to adequately contest shots in the mid-range area and the average European dribble driver can’t simply go around him as he is able to keep pace with his quick moving feet.
Dorsey is an aggressive help defender and sometimes to a fault, as this is why he is in constant foul trouble. He is a very instinctive shot blocker; fast rotating towards the opponent attacking the rim, leaping off the ground in a pinch and possessing a body capable of absorbing contact in the air. He ranked in the top six in block rate in both the Euroleague and the Spanish league, blocking on average two shots per 40 minutes. Opponents also struggle to move Dorsey in the low post due to his strong core and general strength. He is just as attentive a rebounder on the defensive glass as he is on offense. He is a difficult body for opponents to push off the way or try rebounding over, despite his height, securing 25% of opponents’ misses in both leagues. Barcelona allowed just 100.9 points per 100 possessions among Europe’s elite (the average Euroleague offense scores at a rate of 107 points per 100 possessions) with him in the lineup and just 92.4 in domestic competition, the best defensive rating for a player in Spain.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.