Second-round NBA draft picks are guaranteed nothing except a chance, an opportunity to find the right fit in the right place at the right time.
Damyean Dotson thought he had such a window when the Knicks took him with the 14th pick in the second round, the 44th pick overall. Since then, Dotson’s window has expanded to the point where it’s the envy of any Manhattan apartment owner.
The combination of Dotson’s blistering hot shooting in the Orlando Pro Summer League and the fickle nature of free agency have combined to enhance the 6-5 shooting guard’s chances of making the Knicks.
Since missing his first five three-pointers, Dotson has settled down and tore up the nets, draining his last 8-of-11 three’s. He was 5-of-10 from the field including 3-of-3 from behind the arc in the Knicks 99-87 loss to Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon.
“It’s always tough these first couple of games,’’ Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters Sunday in Orlando after the team’s 103-78 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
“Guys are nervous — they try too hard sometimes. I thought that’s what he did [Saturday] but [Sunday] he was a little bit more relaxed. So it’s a good start for him.’’
Dotson’s college coach at Houston, Kelvin Sampson, is not surprised. Sampson was an assistant coach with the Rockets when Courtney Lee, the Knicks starting shooting guard, was in Houston.
Justin Holiday was Lee’s backup last season. According to published reports, Holiday has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bulls.
Dotson just might have landed in the right place at the right time.
“He’s a lot like Courtney Lee but he’s a better shooter,’’ said Sampson. “Courtney’s a better all around player. If you put Damyean on the wing, he’s going to make shots.’’
Which is exactly what he did last season at Houston and what he’s doing for the Knicks in Orlando. Dotson was eighth in the nation as a senior, making 3.4 three’s per game. He’s now 8-of-16 from behind the arc in Orlando.
“I feel I’ve been doing pretty good,’’ Dotson said. “Didn’t get any rebounds [Sunday]; have to try to get more rebounds. Just play as hard as I can. Keep that same energy.’’
Dotson grabbed five rebounds and had an assist against the Thunder. He’s done a little bit of everything, averaging 12 points and 4.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes with five assists, one steal and a perfect 4-for-4 from the line.
At 6-5, 202 pounds, Dotson has NBA shooting guard size. He made 44 percent of his 3’s (104-of-238) last season. He also got some advance NBA work at Houston where Rockets star James Harden would occasionally scrimmage with the Cougars.
“That was pretty cool,’’ Dotson told reporters in Orlando.
Dotson said he defended Harden in 5-of-5 scrimmages. When asked how he did, Dotson quipped, “I did all right.’’
Dotson knows in order to make the Knicks, he has to be more than a one-trick pony. Three-point shooting alone will only get him so far.
With his size and length, he should be an above-average defender. He said he’s working hard to improve his strength and lateral quickness on defense.
Putting in the work won’t be an issue. Sampson said when Dotson was elected team captain as a senior, 12 of the 13 players voted for him. Dotson voted for a teammate.
“I laugh when I hear people say a kid was in the gym 12 hours a day,’’ said Sampson. “No one is in the gym 12 hours a day.
“But there were a lot of nights I would walk into my office and hear music blaring from the gym, Damyean was in there working. He’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve had.’’
Dotson, of course, had no way of knowing the window that opened for him on draft night just might be his best way into the NBA.
He already thought he was in a good place with the Knicks.
“It’s a blessing,’’ he said. “I didn’t know where I was going. I was kind of nervous up there in the stands. But just hearing my name called, for it to be the Knicks, top market, it means a lot to me.”