In life, sometimes all you need is a chance to prove yourself and during this year’s summer league, 25-year-old guard Jeff Dowtin did just that. Dowtin is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound point guard from Rhode Island who has been looking for a full time NBA roster spot for years now. After declaring for the 2020 NBA draft, Dowtin was not one of the 60 players who heard their name called that night and went on to spend time with the Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, and Milwaukee Bucks mostly in G-league stints. But this year he found himself with the Toronto Raptors, and this may be the break Dowtin needed in his career. Before this years Summer League I wasn’t aware of Jeff Dowtin’s game but after I saw a clip of Dowtin attacking the rim off the dribble during Summer League, I took it upon myself to dig deeper into his game.
The Toronto Raptors posted a 4-1 record in this year’s Summer League and Jeff Dowtin was a big reason why. In four games in Summer League this season, Dowtin averaged 16 points on 57 percent from the field and 36 percent from three, 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for the team lead in steals with Dalano Banton and was only 0.3 points under Banton for team lead in PPG — the averages show he was a leader of this team and had a very good showcase. Dowtin posted a 67 TS percentage and shot 92 percent from the free throw line as well. Although this is merely a four-game sample size, these stats are very encouraging for a player the Raptors are taking a chance on.
The skills that Dowtin showed during this Summer League stint could be very useful on the Toronto Raptors roster. Throughout Summer League Dowtin showed his elite first step speed, his amazing burst, and his refined body control. He blew past defenders off the dribble many times, and when met with any resistance he had the control to stop and fire off an array of floaters and crafty layups to finish plays.
His speed in the open court was very effective too, pushing it up the floor and finding teammates for easy buckets. His jump shot mechanics aren’t the best, but they seemed adequate enough to knock down jumpers when the opportunity arises. He’s shot 44.1 percent from deep over his regular-season career in the G League, so he has a history of making triples. Dowtin also showed some intriguing flashes of playmaking in this Summer League stint.
Many times he hit a trailing shooter in transition offense, which shows an awareness of the floor that’s not always common to Summer League play. His excellent driving ability also opened up drive-and-kick opportunities, which he was more than willing to take advantage of. But where he popped the most was in sheer self-creation ability specifically, rim pressure. This fits a need on the Toronto Raptors which is rim pressure especially off the bench. All last season the Raptors didn’t have reliable sources of rim pressure — particularly off the bench — and Jeff Dowtin could potentially be the answer to that problem. He may find real playing time purely because he fills a need there.
Defensively, Dowtin won’t be a life changer. But he is a guy with a large wingspan and good footspeed who is giving you effort on the ball. Off the ball is where he might be able to add the most value. He is very attentive and a willing helper, which would be welcome with the Raptors. It fits into their desired scheme. His 185-pound frame makes screens a tough thing to navigate, as he can get bumped off track, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world considering some of the great help defenders Toronto has, and that the Raptors seem to want to rotate and switch such plays anyway. Dowtin’s defense most likely will not be extremely impactful, but it should hold up well enough for him to stay on the floor.
Jeff Dowtin only signed a two-way deal with the Toronto Raptors, so it’s clear his journey to a full-time NBA roster spot isn’t complete yet, but because he fills such a need on the roster, with this opportunity in training camp and with the Raptors G League team he may well show that he is worth a spot. Dowtin’s first-step speed, burst, touch, and overall finishing and rim pressure make me a firm believer in him moving forward.