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Dotson details G League bubble experience with Canton Charge originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When Devon Dotson got word he was leaving the Bulls for a G League stint in the Disney World bubble it hosted its condensed 2021 season, he was far from frustrated. After going undrafted in 2020, and falling short of Billy Donovan’s rotation in the first month of his rookie year, he saw the trip as an opportunity.
“I enjoy just playing (basketball), and I looked at it (the bubble) as a place where I can compete. I didn't have any problems with it,” Dotson said in a phone conversation with NBC Sports Chicago. “I wanted to.”
In 10 games with the Canton Charge, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ affiliate (the Bulls were one of 11 teams not to send theirs), Dotson averaged 13 points, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals. Starting each of those games at point guard, he commanded the Charge offense in his 31.4 minutes per night -- a far cry from his 10 total minutes of action with the Bulls.
Though an unusual experience to acclimate to a team outside of his organization and with a number of seasoned veterans, Dotson said he settled into his role as floor general rather comfortably after the group’s first week of practice before the season.
“I just wanted to play my game, play the right way. That was the biggest thing which I think fit in nicely, because I just tried to be a point guard, be a leader and get everybody in their spots,” Dotson said. “I felt like I had a great showing… It wasn't really about scoring too much, just getting in the offense and defensively making an impact.”
With games and practices coming fast and furious -- his 10 appearances fell within a 17-day span -- Dotson said downtime was limited in the “Glubble,” which featured 18 teams inhabiting Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Meals were served in a large convention room. Players underwent daily coronavirus testing.
What breaks did exist Dotson said were spent on recovery -- either resting in his room or soaking in one of the ice baths that lined the Coronado Springs pools -- poring over film or picking up an interesting new hobby.
“Actually the thing I did the most was play chess,” he said. “I got into it a lot. I was serious about it, like we were having tournaments… It was a cool game just to challenge your mind and that's what I did a lot.”
What started as a curiosity turned competitive, especially against Charge teammate turned Rockets Two-Way signee Anthony Lamb, who Dotson called a strategic player.
“I went to go watch YouTube videos of different strategies and tips, I caught on to it,” he said. “I never actually ended up beating him full strength.”
Still, Dotson termed himself a bit of a “natural” at the game, which he's mulling bringing to the Bulls' team plane. Fitting for the point guard who, when asked his goals for his G League stay, centered the focus on team organization.
“Decision-making in game scenarios. Reading ball-screens,” he listed as two of his primary areas of focus entering the season.
A nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (5.6-to-1.9 per game) in his 10 appearances should be emblematic of a box checked. Though the Charge fell outside the playoff picture as their season progressed, Dotson notched two points-assists double-doubles, and capped his stint with a 21-point, 3-steal performance against the Ignite. Reminders of his two-way, spark plug potential.
And though the Bulls didn’t send their G League affiliate to participate, Dotson said he was in constant virtual communication with several Bulls staffers to get feedback after games, from player development coordinator Ty Abbott, to former Windy City head coach and current Bulls assistant Damian Cotter, to vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly. Bulls scouts that phased in and out offered him feedback as well.
“I talked to him. I think he really enjoyed it. It's hard. When you're a young player like that and you're not getting in games, you miss the competitive piece of it,” Donovan said. “I think that Devon felt he learned a lot. He felt like it was a really good experience for him, I think he was really happy that he did it. It gives him at least something, a gauge, in some of these competitive games to look at where he can get better and where he can improve.”
Dotson was recalled on March 1 and said he used the All-Star break to rest, train and continue rehabbing a banged knee (officially termed a sprain) he sustained in the bubble, which has landed him on the Bulls’ injury report. Though he returns to Chicago without a defined role, in a season still permeated by COVID-19, he knows his number could be called at a moments notice.
“Even if I'm not in the rotation, just making sure I'm staying ready because there's a lot of games we have coming up. Anything can happen,” he said on his objectives for the second half. “You just come to practice every day just with a positive mindset, ready to work."
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