Damyean Dotson fell out of the rotation in his third NBA season after an impressive sophomore campaign in which he improved across the board, and it unfortunately feels like the quintessential three-and-D guy might have played his last game as a member of the Knicks.
Dotson, 26-years-old and drafted 44th overall in 2017, is one of the last relics of the failed Phil Jackson acid trip. Dot and Frank Ntilikina are the longest-tenured Knickerbockers, which, based upon recent trends, suggests they could be nearing the conclusion of their time in New York.
Ntilikina has ties to new team president Leon Rose though, so perhaps he’s safe. Dotson, on the other hand, does not. And Rose barely even got to see Dot play, seeing as he failed to get on the court in eight of the last nine games that took place prior to the season’s coronavirus-caused cancellation.
A Quick Refresher On Dotson’s Career To Date
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dotson barely played as a rookie — he only played in 44 games and averaged just under 11 minutes per contest back in 2017-18. But you might be surprised to be reminded that, in a late season blowout of the Miami Heat, he had 30 points (12-21 shooting, 4-10 from three), 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.
In the wake of that explosion, Dotson finished the season with three straight solid showings, averaging 11 points, 6 boards and 2 assists. An intriguing finale fa sho.
In year two, Dotson got considerably better, posting almost 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 36% from deep in 27 minutes per game. He put up 15 points or more 20 different times, and had multiple multi-game stretches of merit, including a group of six games in March when he averaged 20 points, 3.5 boards, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 48% from the floor and 43% from deep.
So What Happened?
Dotson had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder a few months before training camp began for the 2019-20 season. Then he didn’t play in the preseason because he was still recovering. Optimists thought he was just being careful and wanted to be 100% before suiting up. Knicks fans feared this was all a harbinger for something horrible.
Dot didn’t play in four of the first six regular season games. Then David Fizdale graciously gave him a few minutes, getting Dotson on the floor for about 14 total minutes across three games. After that, he played at least 15 minutes per game consistently for a few weeks and had some decent games, but his shooting percentages were down and his overall stats were subdued.
When Fizdale was fired in December, Mike Miller took the mantle and continued giving Dotson spotty minutes. Despite a few standout efforts — 19 points on 7-13 shooting in a 6-point loss to the Washington Wizards, 17 points on 6-14 shooting in an 8-point loss against the Los Angeles Lakers and 21 points on 7-10 shooting in a 6-point loss to the Toronto Raptors — Dotson’s third season was a disappointment.
Overall, Dotson’s minutes fell from 27 per game last year to 17 this year. He played fewer than 10 minutes 12 times. His stats showed a similar drop, with Dot finishing the season averaging just under 7 points per game (41% from the field, 36% from deep), plus 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
Is Dotson Done Or Salvageable?
He didn’t display the same promise he had a year earlier, but because the Knicks were such a clown show throughout the season in 2019-20, Dotson’s difficulties were the least of everyone’s concerns. With the season thankfully in the rearview mirror — unless the NBA forces the Knicks to play in a second, unnecessary bubble — it’s time to figure out what the franchise should do with Dot.
Was he simply slow in recovering from shoulder surgery? Would he have shown more consistency if given steady minutes? Was he done in by the signings of Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington? Could the new regime help him return to his 2018-19 form (when Dotson wound up starting 40 of the 73 games in which he played)?
These are all questions the Rose regime must weigh while considering whether to extend a qualifying offer to Dotson this summer. Other teams also have the ability to try and sign Dotson to an offer sheet, but the Knicks have the right to match.
In a late March piece from the New York Post entitled “Why Damyean Dotson’s future with Knicks is uncertain,” Marc Berman reported that the Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors “are expected to show some interest in Dotson.”
One might think that it would mean something when strong organizations with plenty of recent playoff history have interest in poaching one of your young players. But we truly have no clue what Rose thinks about Dotson, who wasn’t among the young players the new team president mentioned when he recently gave his first public interview.
Dotson regressed in year three, but he wasn’t exactly dealt a great hand. He has already shown the potential to be a solid contributor when put in the right situation, and at 6’5”, 210 pounds, he fits the prototype for a modern NBA role player. But he might have already missed his chance to prove his worth to the people who now run the Knicks.
If he isn’t retained, hopefully Dotson lands on a good team where he can have a long and fruitful career. Knicks fans can root for him from afar and enjoy his successes while not feeling intense despair when he struggles. Or, you can treat him like he was never on the Knicks. To each their own.