New York Knicks: Damyean Dotson’s case to join the starting lineup

New York Knicks Damyean Dotson (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks Damyean Dotson (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have received a spark from Damyean Dotson off the bench, so after four consecutive losses, is it time to start him?

2018-19 is about the rookies and the still-young players and their respective development for the New York Knicks. That entails a rollercoaster ride of nights like the season opener and what transpired against the Miami Heat, with a 30-point loss on the road.

New York is now four consecutive games in the hole, and with any down period comes adjustments to fix the issues. That may happen to the starting lineup, especially after the letting Miami shoot 48.1 percent and have their main five carve up the Knicks’ five.

As the dust cleared, though, few players emerged positively from the orange and blue, with Damyean Dotson the high-point man at 20 and 10 rebounds on 8-for-14 shooting and a team-high 34 minutes.

It’s a stunning turnaround for the second-year man, who rode the bench in the opening two games, but joined the rotation when Kevin Knox sprained his ankle.

Now, with 14.6 points on a 48.5 percent clip, Dotson has the spotlight and a chance to start in this “revolving door.” that head coach David Fizdale noted.

Just how good has he played, though? Per NBA Advanced Stats, at 61.0 percent, the 24-year-old guard leads the Knicks in Effective Field Percentage, mostly due to his consistent three-point stroke at 42.8 percent and with over half his shot attempts from this range.

It’s an efficient look from Dotson, who sits nearly 12 percent ahead of Tim Hardaway Jr., a high volume scorer. Maybe a little over the former’s head after a 51.6 Effective Field Goal Percentage in 2017-18, but expected improvement and a surge in minutes accompany him this time around.

Beyond the numbers goes Fizdale’s confidence. He played Dotson first off the bench against Milwaukee and Miami, compared to Knox in the first three games. While the next options to play sixth man lack, it’s still a quick rise from someone that couldn’t find a minute just days prior.

Who goes for New York’s red-hot player? A four-guard set of Dotson, Hardaway, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina hypothetically works and places the Frenchman as the undersized four. This group stretches the floor at not an elite rate, but enough to stay afloat with teams that dominate the perimeter.

It’s just a sacrifice defensively. Bigger teams would overwhelm this starting five, including Enes Kanter, and give the Knicks mismatches all evening.

The secondary option finds Burke out of the starting lineup, making Ntilikina the primary ball handler. He has stayed off the ball in the preseason and five regular-season games, and with Fizdale’s dive into the sophomore’s development, the chance of this happening seems low.

Sans Burke, though, the Knicks make this a bigger lineup that offers the “positionless” basketball mantra that was stressed in training camp. So the 6-foot-6 Dotson replaces the 6-foot-1 Michigan product to create versatile defensive assignments.

Aside from that, Dotson over Burke adds a solid shooter to play off the distributor, rather than having just Hardaway to work off the point guard, as Kanter, Thomas and Ntilikina aren’t reliable enough or don’t knock down perimeter shots.

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It’s still early, but an opportunity has allowed Dotson to break through in a mere three games. Knox’s eventual return still curbs the long-term sustainability, so to ensure a consistent rotation spot remains, each game is a test for the Houston product.