Damyean Dotson was a low-cost free agent signing by the Cavs this offseason. In a league that values shooting so heavily, he deserves a look for what he can do on the court. And if the Cavs are going to have an older wing on the roster as a depth piece/occasional rotation member, Dotson has more upside than Alfonzo McKinnie.
What last season was like
Dotson completed this third NBA season last year. With the Knicks — the only team he’s played for — Dotson appeared in 48 games, averaging 6.7 points while shooting 36.2% on three-point attempts in 17.4 minutes per game. The season before, he played in 73 games and averaged 27.5 minutes per game, so 2019-20 saw him take on a smaller role with the Knicks.
Notably, Dotson was picked by the Phil Jackson-era Knicks, so he didn’t have ties to the new leadership in place. Plus, he had shoulder surgery on a torn labrum before last season and missed training camp. That seemed to hurt him and keep him from building on the momentum of a good second season.
What his role could look like
Dotson, at 6’6” and north of 200 pounds, has an ideal size to be a three-and-d player. The Cavs also happen to need a guy who does what Dotson does, so it’d be interesting to see if he can earn some minutes. Despite the Cavs needing what he does, there’s a lot of bodies looking for minutes at the wing. Not only is there top pick Isaac Okoro, but also Dylan Windler, Cedi Osman and Kevin Porter Jr. Dante Exum could also be lumped into that grouping too.
That said, here’s a sampling of what Dotson does. Only Windler provides something similar and that’s only in theory because Windler hasn’t played any minutes yet.
Osman’s a decent, if streaky shooter, and there’s still work to be done on Porter Jr. and Okoro’s shots. He’s not particularly comfortable taking three-pointers off the dribble or when he has to take one late in the clock, but Dotson is good at coming off of screens and catching and shooting if the ball is swung his way. He’s a useful safety valve. Dotson also plays hard and isn’t lost on defense, so that’s a plus.
Per Bball-Index, a measly 16.6% of Dotson’s three-point shots last year can be considered ‘open.’ That rates out among the lowest figures in the league and a sign that he was playing in a bad system on a bad team. And yet, he shot 36.2% on three-pointers overall and 38.9% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers.
The Cavs aren’t exactly a good team, but if they can generate better looks for Dotson, maybe this percentage can be pushed up a few percentage points. By comparison, per BBall-Index, 19.7% of Osman’s three-point shots were considered ‘open,’ pushing him 16 percentiles higher than Dotson. Osman shot 38.8% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last year and 38.1% overall.
I think Dotson will get a chance to play this year. I don’t think he’s a starter, nor will he get the nearly 30 minutes he got with the Knicks almost two years ago. Maybe it’s as the 11th man in the rotation and he doesn’t play on a nightly basis. But I think that Dotson will get a shot.