Since Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings was sidelined for a month with an ankle injury, Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling were handed the keys to the NBA’s lowest scoring offense without its leading scorer.
This gave Boykins and Dooling the chance to show what they could do with increased minutes and responsibility as the Bucks entered the toughest stretch of their 2010-11 schedule, and one of the 30+ year old veterans should be rewarded when Brandon Jennings returns.
By Jake McCormick
It just so happens that Boykins has been the player responsible for filling that gap over the last five games. He’s scored at a similar per game rate (17.2 to 17.9), and a higher shooting percentage across the board in 10.3 less minutes per game than Jennings.
Here are the stat lines for the Boykins-Dooling combo over the last 5 games:
Earl Boykins: 25.8 minutes, 17.2 pts, 50% fg, 37.5% 3fg, 88.9 ft, 1.8 rbs, 2.2 asts
Keyon Dooling: 37.2 minutes, 12.2 pts, 42.9% fg, 26.3% 3fg, 87.5% ft, 3 rbs, 5.6 asts, 1.4 stl
Boykins’ line most closely resembles that from last year’s fan favorite backup, Luke Ridnour, and his most successful shots have also come from Ridnour’s familiar spots on the floor (11-20 from 16-23 feet, 7-20 from three point range).
Boykins’ mid and long range game has mostly come off his own ability to create shots, and the more he plays, the more comfortable he looks in the role of a scoring bench point guard.
The disadvantage of having Boykins on the floor is his height on defense, which makes it hard to hide him against quality point guards and anyone over six feet. The counter argument to this all-too-often discussion about what makes Earl Boykins unique is just as simple.
Ridnour certainly isn’t known as a tough defender, and Milwaukee’s reputable defense got along just fine when he was on the floor last year. The Bucks are always in need of someone able to create offense and make open shots, and Boykins has done enough lately to earn increased floor time in his current role when Jennings returns.
Lobbying for more floor time for Earl Boykins doesn’t mean that Keyon Dooling should be relegated to garbage time, as he has been fairly successful as well in the wake of Jennings’ injury. Dooling is a better defender than Boykins, can get to the rim on occasion, and is a much better passer because of his size and floor vision.
Bucks coach Scott Skiles occasionally plays with two-point guard lineups, even with Brandon Jennings sidelined. The current increased scoring production from Boykins just gives Skiles more options when Jennings returns towards the end of January.
If the Bucks have learned anything from the past few weeks without Jennings, it’s that they have veteran point guards capable of running the offense respectably with confidence. You can only hope it continues when both Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins see decreased minutes against a lighter schedule after January 14 (19 of 21 upcoming opponents have records below .500).
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