New York Knicks Damyean Dotson
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Damyean Dotson is forcing himself into the rotation for the New York Knicks who are in need of a three-point threat off the bench.

Danny Small

Every player on the New York Knicks is currently auditioning for a role in a coming attraction. The Knicks don’t have many long-term investments on the roster, but they do have a lot of young players fighting for spots. One player flying under the radar is Damyean Dotson. He’s shown flashes of a knockdown three-point shooter during limited and inconsistent minutes in his young career.

The second-round pick failed to garner a minute of playing time in the first two games of the year, but that changed on the second night of a back-to-back. A Kevin Knox injury gave David Fizdale fewer options to turn to.

But Dotson played well enough to force Fiz to take notice. In fact, the head coach even admitted that Dotson probably deserved to be in the rotation already when he spoke with reporters following the team’s tough loss to the Boston Celtics.

“He’s exactly what we’re looking for in a player. You’re gonna see Dot playing. He’s earned the right to get out on that court. I was really happy with the way he kept himself ready. That’s a real professional approach for a young kid when going through preseason you could say easily he should’ve been in the rotation right away.”

Now that Knox appears to be out for at least a couple weeks, Dotson has an opportunity to carve out his niche. If he wants to play consistent second minutes, he needs to knock down threes. Fiz also praised Dotson’s shooting ability in Saturday’s postgame.

“It doesn’t hurt that he could shoot it. We really need the shooting.”

The Knicks sorely need someone to step up and fill the role of the knockdown three-point shooter off the bench. Tim Hardaway Jr. is leading the charge offensively and shooting the three well this season, but no one has been a consistent threat to stretch the floor on the second unit. Allonzo Trier is offensively gifted, but he’s more of a slasher and mid-range threat. Mario Hezonja has been hot and cold early. Not to mention, Ron Baker has yet to find his rhythm this year.

Dotson was an efficient 2-for-5 from deep against Boston on Saturday night. That mark of 40 percent from deep is the magic number. Over 40 percent from deep is an excellent percentage.

The best part about Dotson’s night was subtle. He wasn’t doing much and Fizdale was ready to reinsert Frank Ntilikina into the game. But right on cue, Dotson knocked down a three and Ntilikina started running back to the bench. Fizdale is making it a habit to leave guys in if they knock down a shot. This same scenario happened with Kevin Knox against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.

Dotson followed up his coach’s faith by rewarding the move. He calmly stepped up and knocked down another three on the same side of the floor. He did it in heads-up fashion, catching the Celtics off guard.

But one solid game from Dotson isn’t enough to get too excited over. Developing some consistency is key for the 24-year-old. He followed up his solid performance with a 4-for-8 night from deep against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Again, not enough to anoint him as a three-point assassin, but a step in the right direction nonetheless. Dotson also hit a couple threes that tied the game up late in the fourth quarter. These weren’t garbage minutes, these were clutch shots — as clutch as any shot can be in October.

The Knicks are just begging for someone to step up and fill this role. Dotson will have his chance to prove himself in the next two weeks. This will be the longest stretch of consistent minutes in his career.

The only time he ever played consistent minutes in his NBA career was the final four games of the regular season last year. It’s a small sample size, but in those four games, Dotson averaged 15.8 points on 54.3 percent shooting from the floor and 38.1 from deep. He even had a 30-point outburst against the Miami Heat.

You might notice that Dotson is almost exclusively shooting from the right side of the floor in this film. The sample size for Dotson’s career is small, but he has shown a tendency to shoot more — and more effectively — from the right side. Last season Dotson was 13-for-31 (41.9 percent) from the right side above the break and in the right corner. On all other threes, he was 9-for 37 (24.3 percent). This season he’s 5-for-8 from the right side and 1-for-5 from anywhere else.

It’s hard to say that this means. It could just be a statistical anomaly that sorts itself out as time goes on, but either way, it’s noticeable. But it also could mean that Dotson is far more comfortable from that side of the floor.

Three-point shooting is something that can vault a player into the rotation, but teams always seem to be looking for shooters who can shoot and do something else really well. Usually, we think of those 3-and-D guys that are so valuable.

How Dotson projects as a defender is up in the air, but so far in his career, he’s also shown a willingness to rebound the basketball. Becoming a top-notch rebounder at his position would certainly help Dotson solidify his spot in the rotation and rebounding is a crucial aspect of defending. During the final four games of last season, Dotson averaged seven rebounds per game. So far in two games this season, Dotson’s hauled in 10 rebounds in two games.

There’s no need to dissect too much on film, but it’s easy to tell that Dotson is athletic, he has a nose for the ball, and he plays hard. on the final play in this series, he gets caught on a screen and ends up chasing the play. But since he doesn’t quit on the play he secures the rebound.

His best path to becoming a consistent contributor in the NBA is to assume the 3-and-D role. He’s showing a lot of potential despite limited minutes early in his career. But this year is an audition year for almost every player on New York’s roster. Dotson will have every opportunity to prove himself and if he does, you can be sure that he’ll be in the plans for the future.

 

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