Bulls

Breaking down Dotson's first games in G League bubble

Bulls

The Bulls didn't send their G League affiliate to the Disney World bubble where the league is hosting its 2021 campaign. But they did send a player.

Devon Dotson, who signed a 2-way deal with the team after going undrafted out of Kansas, is getting reps with the Cleveland Cavaliers' affiliate, the Canton Charge, down in Orlando. And in a starting role, he's already making an impact, averaging 14 points, 6 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1 steal while playing 32 minutes per game across the Charge's first two contests.

Here's a breakdown of Dotson's first action:

Game 1 -- Memphis Hustle 114, Charge 102

Dotson: 16 points, 2 assists (1 turnover), 2 rebounds, 1 steal | 7-for-13 FG, 2-for-6 3P | 29 minutes, -2

Most of Dotson's production in game one came early. All 16 of his points fell in the game's first three quarters; at the half, he had 10 on 5-for-7 shooting.

Each of his five first-half makes came at the rim -- the first two off transition sprint-outs and the final three on knifing drives. The first-step quickness that made Dotson such a lauded collegiate player was on full display.

The third quarter saw him notch six points on 2-for-3 shooting from 3-point range, both makes of the catch-and-shoot variety. Dotson missed each of his three 3s in the fourth and didn't attempt a shot inside the arc in the second half.

Though Canton charged out to an eight-point first quarter lead -- they led 21-15 when Dotson checked out midway through -- the Hustle controlled the contest from there. A 41-point second quarter spurred them to a sizable advantage they never appeared close to relinquishing.

 

Game 2 -- Charge 130, Greensboro Swarm 114

Dotson: 12 points, 10 assists (3 turnovers), 9 rebounds, 1 steal | 3-for-9 FG, 0-for-1 3P, 3-for-3 FT (6 free-throw points)* | 35 minutes, +29 (game-high)

*In line with new rules for this G League season, players attempt only one free throw on 2- and 3-shot fouls.

Dotson's impact was more diverse in Friday's bounceback win over the Swarm, but his facilitating shined most. Ten assists jump off the stat sheet, and his drive-and-kick and skip-passing chops off the screen.

Two stretches that stood out:

  • In the final minute of the first quarter, Dotson had two turbo-charged drives lead to points. The first came off a Ray McCallum foul from behind after Dotson exploded past him off the dribble. The second resulted from a Dotson assist to an Aaron Epps corner 3 after Dotson effectively attacked a closeout in transition.
  • The Charge outscored the Swarm 16-7 in the last four minutes of the second (to lead 66-56 at halftime), and Dotson's fingerprints were all over it. He snared three long offensive rebounds in that stretch; the first led to him assisting a corner 3; the second to him drawing a foul and converting two points at the free-throw line; and the third came from him following a badly-missed jumper of his own and generating a second-chance opportunity the Charge eventually turned into a layup. He also spearheaded a speedy fastbreak off a grab-and-go, attracting three defenders on a drive and dumping off to a Sheldon Mac lay-in.

All of which is to say, Dotson's burst off the bounce is legit and he's prone to hustle plays, even when his shot isn't falling.

That was certainly the case against the Swarm, as he missed his first five field goal attempts en route to 3-for-9 shooting overall (and one of those makes was a layup in garbage time with both teams playing at half speed). Through two games, in fact, Dotson is shooting 8-for-12 in the restricted area (with three of those misses being blocked) and 2-for-10 outside of it (2-for-7 from 3). Improving the latter mark could be the key to his NBA hopes.

His game-high +29 plus-minus, though, is a feather in the cap.

Even amid widespread injuries, Dotson hadn't cracked the Bulls rotation in his first spell with the team, appearing in just one game -- a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 1 -- and scoring 4 points in 10 minutes of action.

"I think with the way our team is really having three point guards there probably wasn't a pathway for him (Dotson) to receive consistent minutes," head coach Billy Donovan said of the decision to transfer Dotson. "So I think for him being out there (in the G League bubble), the more experience he can get playing in an NBA game or NBA rules will help him. And he needs that, guys need to play."

Dotson will continue to do just that on Sunday, when the Charge square off against the Oklahoma City Blue at 6 p.m. CT. Each side enters the matchup 1-1, and every game counts for the 18 teams in attendance vying for a spot in the eight-game playoff at the end of the 15-game regular-season slate.

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