The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is quickly approaching. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Today’s profile looks at 19-year-old point guard Daishen Nix. Listed as the No. 21 recruit in ESPN’s 2020 class, Nix decided to take his talent to the G League last season. Under coach Brian Shaw’s guidance on the Ignite squad, Nix performed well as a lead guard.
- Height: 6’4”
- WT: 225
- Wingspan: 6’7”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: PG
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 50-60
- PTS: 8.8 | Per 36: 11.9
- REB: 5.3 | Per 36: 7.2
- STL: 1.0 | Per 36: 1.4
- AST: 5.3 | Per 36: 7.1
- FG%: 38.4
- 3P%: 17.6
- FT%: 71.4
Nix’s upside is tied to his youth, size and court vision. Utilizing a head-up approach, Nix is a maestro in halfcourt sets and transition opportunities. Buoyed by his 6-foot-4 frame, Nix is constantly looking for avenues to get his teammates open. When moving downhill, Nix is comfortable handling the ball with either hand. His passes are consistently in front of the defense and he routinely makes the correct pass out of pick-and-roll sets. Outside of traditional looks, Nix is a skilled lob passer.
When Nix looks for his own shot, he excels at imposing his will with his body. Once in position, he is comfortable finishing through contact.
On the defensive end, Nix’s court vision comes to the surface. Thanks to his favorable length and instincts, he is a threat to invade passing lanes. His NBA-ready body should allow him to anchor himself against bigger players when mismatches occur. In the post, Nix is not afraid to mix it up with post players when hunting for a rebound.
A lack of outside shooting places a firm cap on Nix’s draft stock. On offense, Nix has not shown that he has the ability to consistently knock down catch-and-shoot opportunities. When creating for himself, the Alaska native too often drifts into low-percentage shots in midrange areas.
Off the dribble, Nix lacks an explosive first step. Due to his size, Nix mitigates his lack of burst by overpowering smaller defenders. In the NBA, that approach will lose its effectiveness. In the paint, he is a below-the-rim finisher.
It should be noted that Nix has focused on his three-point shooting and his weight since the G League season ended.
Nix de-committed from UCLA to join the G League’s upstart Ignite squad. In 15 non-playoff appearances, Nix averaged 26.5 minutes per game. Coach Shaw made it a point to pair Nix with veteran guard Jarrett Jack in crucial moments. The idea: sharpen Nix’s already-promising skills as a floor general. In his lone postseason outing, Nix recorded 11 points and three assists in 29 minutes.
The strengths and concerns surrounding Nix are a lower-stakes version of the critiques that surrounded LaMelo Ball last year. Nix is a gifted passer and he maximizes that skill with his stellar feel for the game. The biggest issue is his lack of shooting. Modern point guards are often asked to create for themselves and keep opponents honest with three-point shooting. Nix is just 19, so there is room for growth on that front. But he has a steep hill to climb.
Shooting concerns aside, Nix has the skills and potential to develop into a solid third guard. He can provide a spark in transition, undertake physical perimeter matchups and keep the ball moving when the second unit is on the floor.
The Blazers could be moving in a direction that features more ball movement and defense from their guard rotation. Nix will take time to develop, but he definitely fits the bill in both of those avenues. Along with his skillset, the former Ignite guard would bolster Portland’s size in the backcourt. Of course, what Nix does on offense when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a noteworthy concern.
Nix is only a year removed from being a coveted college prospect. That upside and potential could pique Olshey’s interest. For the right price, Nix is a decent upside option in the second round.