The only thing the New York Knicks are competing for this year is draft position. That is the only competition going on between the Knicks and other NBA franchises. However, just because the team as a unit is not involved in an intriguing competition, that does not mean there are not individual players having their own battles.

First year head coach David Fizdale admitted the playoffs are out of the realm of possibility. He acknowledged how developing the young core of this team is his primary focus and he wants to find cornerstone talent to plug into the starting lineup for the rest of this season and beyond. If that is the case, then why is there still a competition between Mario Hezonja and Damyean Dotson? The second year guard out of Houston has been caught in limbo between consecutive DNPs and very valuable and very productive minutes.

Dotson came off the bench on Saturday, Dec. 1st and played to a team best +15 while adding 21 points on 7-9 shooting including 5-5 from beyond the arc. Contrast that to the 2015 NBA Draft’s 5th overall pick. Hezonja posted 2 points on 2 shots in the overtime win against Milwaukee. His only value was the media uproar he created by unnecessarily stepping over an imminent league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Dotson’s 21 points were his highest of the year and fell right in the middle of a four game stretch from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 where he scored in double digits each game at a 17.75 PPG.

Hezonja on the other hand has never broken the 20 point mark this year.

Offense, however, is not the end all be all, especially with Fizdale at the helm. That being said, Coach has praised Dotson for his hustle and defense all year long and Dotson often times finds himself on the court specifically for defensive purposes. “Dot’s a big time pro. He’s a guy I really trust in” Fiz said after a loss in Detroit (New York Post). On top of that, Dotson adds a potent 3-point threat, which should be celebrated on a team that struggles from three in an 3-point dominated time of the NBA.

You may wonder how Hezonja’s minutes affect Dotson’s time on the court, especially when they play different positions. Well, Dotson is a shooting guard and Hezonja is a small forward. Those positions can be played interchangeably at some points, especially due to the smaller lineups NBA teams roll out there night after night. Dotson can be a prolific scorer and could slide into that small forward position when Timmy Jr. is on the floor.

After a 128-100 loss on Thursday night to the Celtics, neither player impressed. Hezonja got the nod for the ninth straight game. His only points came on an old fashioned three-point play in the second half. Dotson added his five points in the second half as well. Dotson’s 20 minutes were two more than Hezonja’s. If the game plan ends up allowing Dotson more minutes, why not show faith in Dotson and give him a second chance at the starting 5. With neither player getting a leg up in the embarrassing divisional loss, the starting spot should be given to the player with a brighter future with the New York franchise.

Overall, if development is the goal this season, why is Hezonja getting starting minutes or minutes at all if he isn’t under contract next year and Dotson is a home grown guy who shows great flashes of potential on both sides of the ball? All he needs is confidence from his coach and a year to hone his skills and develop chemistry. In the current climate of the Knicks where winning doesn’t necessarily define success, it seems perfect for Dotson’s growth, as long as Hezonja isn’t in his way.


Featured Image: Getty Images via New York Post

Hezonja photo: N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg


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