Headed into a year where minutes distribution is already complex, New York Knicks guard Damyean Dotson should be considered for a primary role.
The talent the New York Knicks have seemingly plucked out of thin air the past few seasons is strongly overlooked. Likely somewhere lost amidst the criticism they continuously receive for botching free agency.
In just the last two seasons, the Knicks have acquired multiple rotation players between the second-round and those who went undrafted in their respective drafts.
Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson, Ignas Brazdeikis, and specifically, Damyean Dotson. The latter is primed for continued improvement ahead of the team’s 2019-20 campaign.
While the Knicks certainly didn’t come out winners in free agency, they didn’t necessarily lose out. The front office made multiple low-risk, high-reward signings headlined by Julius Randle.
But what they did fail in is predicting the absolute chaotic cluster of talent they’ve assembled, along with what amount of playing time that talent will see on the floor.
Head coach David Fizdale‘s distribution of minutes this year, whilst attempting to maintain the rebuild’s trajectory and developing young talent, is a job you’d be insane to sign on for.
New York’s acquired an enviable balance of veterans and youth. They’ve also found themselves teetering on the line between an okay basketball team and one that only Knicks fans could take pride in watching.
At the middle of all this, Dotson and his career sit surrounded with questions. The most important of all is what his role will be in the upcoming year. No matter the Knicks’ plan, they can only benefit from playing him in a prominent role.
New York, if nothing else, needs all the help they can get on defense. And Dotson showed last season that he can be just that, against even some of the better offensive talent.
The Knicks posted a 112.9 defensive rating on the year, per NBA.com. That ties them with the John Wall-less Washington Wizards for 26th-worst in the league.
After registering just 12 his rookie season, Dotson ripped 58 steals his second year. A massive improvement, and a stark display of confidence from the 24-year old.
He held his own when guarding some of the opposing team’s best talent. Including Giannis Antetokounmpo in an early-December thriller that resulted with the Knicks coming out on top.
Very good defending by Damyean Dotson and the Knicks team defense on Giannis to send this Bucks game to OT at 124-124. pic.twitter.com/b2BKXhCogJ
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 2, 2018
While he did receive some help from Emmanuel Mudiay on that play, it’s the perfect display of just what Dotson offers on defense: posture, footwork, eyes for the ball, and persistence.
Even with the summer’s additions, the guard is one of the best defenders on the roster. While that doesn’t say much, it’s still something.
And when you’re the Knicks working with a group nearly filled to the brim with raw talent, you need that something. While Dotson struggles in off-ball defense from time to time, he’s tough on the ball and doesn’t take plays off.
It’s the primary reason he should see just as many if not more minutes this upcoming season.
Sticking to “the Plan”
While I don’t disagree with any of the Knicks’ signings in free agency; I can’t advocate giving guys like Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, or even Marcus Morris too much time on the floor.
New York has done well with the (very poor) hand they’ve been dealt the last two years. They found and developed plenty of young talent while successfully tanking all the same.
Turning back now, even for a shot at sniffing the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed, is just a means of backpedaling.
So, the Knicks should stick to their plan (we’ll pretend for the next few minutes this is how they anticipated the last few years going) and play the hell out of their young core.
That includes Dotson among others. A kid with all the intangibles, who’s made his way from second-round pick to NBA-talent.
Dotson wasn’t drafted with the expectation that he’d be much of a three-point marksman, but more of a guy whose game was based on the mid-range and strong finishes at the cup.
NBAdraft.net had his NBA comparison as Kelenna Azubuike, a name that most likely doesn’t register with most of you reading this. Drafted in 2005, he spent just three seasons and change in the league with the Warriors and Mavericks.
Other than Azubuike’s 6-foot-5, 220-pound build, other similarities will be hard to find when watching the two players.
Dotson has flourished into a perimeter threat both offensively and defensively. He ended last season connecting on the deep ball with a .368 clip behind 4.7 attempts per game.
In a late-February win over the San Antonio Spurs (yes, you read that correctly), Dotson dropped a season-high 27 points on eight makes from downtown.
It was the truest display of his ceiling as a shooter and fantastic showcase of his ridiculously quick release.
Only 12 players last season (minimum 1,600 minutes played) averaged 11 or fewer points per game on a .360 (or higher) three-point percentage.
Dotson is one of them, according to Basketball-Reference.
And he trailed just NBA-champion Fred VanVleet (11.0 PPG) in points per game among them.
Dotson joins the likes of Danny Green, Marcus Smart, and P.J. Tucker in that category. With the first of those names proving a more viable comparison for the guard long-term.
Kevin Knox was the only other reliable three-point shooter on the Knicks last year. Dotson seeing more minutes will only increase the volume at which he connects from deep, and improve New York’s overall offense.
Damyean Dotson has high potential as a future three-and-d wing.
He can knock down the three-ball and navigates the perimeter with defensive prowess. If the Knicks plan to compete, now or in the long-term, he’ll need to see a larger role than just a reserve wing.