Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Damyean Dotson

Damyean Dotson put himself on the map in two seasons at Oregon, where he was an up-and-coming young starter on a Sweet 16 team. Then he got himself kicked out of school because he was one of three players accused of sexually assaulting a woman. No charges ever came of it but he wound up missing basketball for a year and taking classes at a community college in his hometown of Houston. He wound up getting a second chance playing for Kelvin Sampson at UH, where he is one of a number of retreads that Sampson has turned too to get his program up and running.

Dotson knows how to get buckets

Dotson is now a junior who will turn 22 in March and he definitely looks the part of an NBA player. At 6'5 210 with a 6'8 wingspan, he has prototypical size and speed for an NBA SG. It's very easy for him to create shots off the dribble, even against NBA-caliber defenders like Shake Milton and Sterling Brown of SMU:

There's no way to guard an athletic 6'5 guard who can knock down step-back jumpers off the dribble. Dotson makes tough shots look easy and he has the shooting percentages - 45.9% from the field, 62.8% from 2 - to where you can live with him taking these types of shots.

When SMU ran him off the line, he busted out a beautiful floater:

He also knows how to use his size to put smaller defenders on his back and create contact and he has the strength to finish through it:

Just from an eye-test perspective, he moves like an NBA player. He's very smooth.

Dotson's decision-making needs to improve

He's never going to be a PG but an NBA team still needs to trust him to make the right play when he's driving the ball. The good news is that his assist-to-turnover ratio is in the positive for the first time in his career:


He's a scorer and a shooter but it's still important that he makes plays like this:

The problem is they still came with too many bad plays - he had 3 assists on 5 turnovers against SMU. If UH is going to take the next step, they need to be able to run offense through their best player and wind up with open shots and not this:

3P% is going to make or break Dotson at the next level

He's only shooting 31.9% from 3 and that's just not good enough for a guy whose going to have to be a 3-and-D player at the next level. The good news is that he's a career 80% free-throw shooter at the NCAA level and he clearly has a good-looking stroke. It's nice that he can make step-back 3's off the dribble but he's probably better off shelving that shot in order to boost his percentages.

The problem is that he's not playing with another big-time player at UH who can set him up for a lot of easy shots. Whatever he did at Oregon might end up costing him his chance at an NBA career. He's the 70th ranked junior at DraftExpress at the moment and he's a long way from making anyone's mock draft. He might come back and have a big senior year but he will be 23 years old and it will have to be a big year to get much notice in the American Athletic Conference.

The NBA needs to do a better job of developing guys like Dotson

The weird thing about the way the player market is set up at the moment is there's no shortage of potential 3-and-D guys coming out of college at the age of 22 and there's a glaring need for NBA-caliber starters on the wing at the age of 27. That's why a guy like Wesley Matthews went undrafted because there's a lot of athletic 6'5+ shooters floating around the college game who need to be molded into potential NBA players.

Jonathon Simmons, another UH product, is a good example of how the process should work. After bouncing around the junior college ranks, he had a good but not great season on a bad UH team as a senior - 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 51.2% shooting and 38.6% from 3 - and then went undrafted. That would normally be the end of his story but the Spurs ended up picking him and stashing him in the D-League for 2 seasons and now it looks like they have turned him into a productive NBA contributor at the age of 26.

The thing about it is that playing good perimeter defense at the NBA level is as much mental as physical. Very few young players are capable of earning playing time early in their career on the defensive side of the ball - they have to know the scouting report, they have to be locked in mentally all game long and they have to be able to read and anticipate what guys are going to do before they even do it. It's a hard transition for a scorer like Dotson to make whose spent his entire career playing with the ball in his hands and looking to get buckets. It's not easy to go from an NCAA star to an NBA role player and to learn how to be productive when you hardly ever get to touch the ball.

Most good defensive stoppers are going to be in their mid to late 20's but there's no room for guys like that on an NBA roster when they are in their early 20's. That's one reason the Spurs are the Spurs - they turned Danny Green from cast-off to high-level starter and who knows what they will be able to turn Jonathan Simmons into eventually. The point is that there's a lot of guys like Green and Simmons out there who need to be developed. Damyean Doston is one of them. If I had the time, I could probably find a half-dozen more guys like this around the country playing on teams going nowhere that aren't getting any draft publicity.

That's what makes things like the New Orleans Pelicans giving minutes to Toney Douglas so upsetting. There's just no reason for it - there's too much talent out there for NBA teams who are trying to be competitive to throw away minutes on guys who can't play. Every team in the league should have multiple 3-and-D wings in the pipeline because there's more than enough of them to go around coming out of the NCAA every season. Most of them just wind up slipping through the cracks. If you're paying $15 million a year for these guys when they are in their prime, you might want to think about forking over $50,000 to work with them in the D-League.

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