Where does Damyean Dotson fit into the New York Knicks’ equation for the 2019-20 NBA season?
Unpacking the New York Knicks’ rotation for the 2019-20 NBA season will be a complicated task for head coach David Fizdale. 14 healthy players have a case for playing time, yet just 12 of them can dress. If the group that plays each night is cut to 10, it takes away even more opportunities.
This will deter multiple players, finding themselves on the outside looking. Perhaps a surprising name finds himself cast out.
Then, there is Damyean Dotson.
The Houston product had a similarly questioned case entering the 2018-19 season. He started outside Fizdale’s rotation and worked into it by playing well in garbage minutes.
Last year’s team was littered with issues and in “developmental” mode. The 2019-20 team not only has youth but veterans who need significant playing time. Allonzo Trier, RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton and Wayne Ellington will all consume guard minutes. Frank Ntilikina is the wild card. Figure each player takes at least 20 minutes per game.
Dotson can play the undersized three spot, but Kevin Knox and Marcus Morris are around. Ignas Brazdeikis has a clearer path in the G League, but the Knicks threw their rookies into the fire in 2018. If he makes the opening night roster, that takes another spot.
Dotson has the three-point and defensive capabilities to warrant a rotation spot, already displaying these skills in 73 games and 40 starts. He does not own one standout trait, but there is enough talent to fit into the equation. If the Knicks signed fewer than seven players to fully guaranteed deals and did not add two, touted draft picks, the path would have stayed clear.
The third-year player can always replicate his start to last season and play his way into the rotation. Fizdale always offered opportunities to players not cracking the rotation. It never lasted forever.
However, the best-case scenario for Dotson is a trade of himself or another player to open opportunities. This can happen if the Knicks are out of the race at the trade deadline, with a handful of one-year contracts that may appeal to contending teams eyeing that player to put them over the top. The Kristaps Porzingis trade, under different circumstances, created Dotson’s starting spot in January.
While reclaiming a main role would be difficult, the Houston, TX native can position himself for a top reserve role in the second half of the season, before he enters free agency for the first time; that alone makes this year important for his future, with a new contract ahead next summer.
Dotson may deserve a role, but the New York Knicks have a cluttered situation that needs time to sort itself out. It might take luck or factors outside of his control working in his favor to create another chance, so how this develops will be interesting.