The Trail Blazers’ forgettable 2021-22 season is in the books and it is time to turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft. Unlike recent years, Portland possess multiple picks in this year’s process. After finishing the regular season with a 27-55 record, the Blazers enter the lottery draw with the sixth-best odds in the NBA. Buoyed by those odds, the Blazers are poised to exit the draft with the rights to a marquee prospect.
Today’s profile looks at G League Ignite wing Dyson Daniels. During his stint with the Ignite team, Daniels proved his is a smooth playmaker with defensive upside.
- Height: 6’7”
- WT: 200
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: G/F
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 8-13
- PTS: 11.6 | Per 36: 13.1
- AST: 4.8 | Per 36: 5.4
- REB: 6.6 | Per 36: 7.5
- STL: 2.0 | Per 36: 2.3
- FG%: 45.4
- 3P%: 30.0
- FT%: 53.3
Daniels’ NBA upside is built on a defensive foundation. Daniels has the footwork and frame to shut down opponents in one-on-one situations. He possesses near-perfect form in close-out opportunities. Buoyed by his stellar technique and understanding of space, Daniels deftly seals off driving lanes and guides opponents into trouble. His defensive exploits go beyond his work in one-on-one matchups. He is an excellent help defender and enters passing lanes with unbelievable timing.
In the post, Daniels’ instincts shine. He routinely slides over from help positions to reach the high-point of his leap at the exact right moment to block shots. When it comes to rebounding, those same skills pay dividends. Daniels is a master of using his footwork and timing to win rebounding battles over bigger players. Before focusing on just basketball, Daniels played youth Australian rules football at a high level. It certainly appears that he has carried a portion of that skillset over to basketball.
On the offensive end of the floor, Daniels is natural facilitator. He plays with his head up and he is quick to set up transition opportunities once he secures a rebound. In half-court sets, Daniels is patient when looking for open teammates. He is superb at taking what the defense gives him. From pick-and-roll sets to operating out of the high post, Daniels is constantly searching to get his teammates high-percentage looks.
Daniels’ own offense revolves around finding open lanes. Similar to former Blazers guard Andre Miller and current Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson, Daniels slices through space with an unorthodox pace that often catches defenders off balance. He has superb body control and identifies when an opponent is out of position. Daniels has an excellent right-handed floater and he can convert at the rim comfortably with his left and right. If a team attempts to put a smaller wing on him, Daniels has a nifty bag post moves that he can utilize.
Daniels’ efficiency numbers point to his clear lack of a dependable outside shot. He struggled to adjust to the G League’s three-point line in the first half of the season (it is the same as the NBA line). His free throw shooting was also surprisingly poor for a player that displays an abundance of touch around the basket. It is important to note that his three-point percentage did increase significantly in his final nine games (45.1 percent on 31 attempts). Overall, the sample size for his free throws and three-point attempts are too low to comfortably project future improvement.
Along with those efficiency numbers, Daniels’ shot form barely passes the eye test. Yes, it is repeatable and fluid. But it is a touch on the slow side. Daniels will need a decent amount of space to get his three-point shot off at the next level.
Athletically, Daniels is not explosive. He needs to launch from both feet at the rim in order to withstand contact. His positioning on defense puts him in the right place to succeed, but he could struggle against elite NBA point guards when those matchups arise.
Daniels fulfilled a facilitator role on a G League Ignite squad that was loaded with first-round talent. Daniels has discussed his willingness to sacrifice his own scoring output in order to allow Jaden Hardy and Marjon Beauchamp to thrive. As a team, the Ignite squad finished the G League Showcase event with a 6-6 record.
Daniels returned to Australia after the conclusion of the G League season. In an interview with ESPN Australia, Daniels revealed that he is working out on his own and periodically participating in 5-on-5 runs with Melbourne United of the NBL.
It is rare to find a 19-year-old prospect with a game as polished as the one that Daniels possesses. Defensively, he is among the most NBA-ready players in the entire class. From day one, he should be able to contribute. Daniels’ long-term defensive potential is even more impressive. Reports indicate that he is still growing, which opens the door to even more positional versatility. Daniels’ current mix of size and athleticism allows him to guard point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. If he continues to add size, he will add power forwards to that list.
Off the floor, Daniels projects confidence and maturity in his interviews. He speaks highly of his teammates and acknowledges areas of his game that he needs to improve. Daniels’ father, Ricky Daniels, played basketball for NC State.
Daniels’ ceiling could feature a role where he is a lockdown defender on one end of the floor and a primary facilitator at the other. Don’t let the G League pathway throw you off, Daniels might be the best prospect that you aren’t talking about, yet.
The Blazers feature an abundance of shooting with Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Josh Hart in the mix. Daniels is not a proven outside shooter, but he has shown that he can find open teammates and keep everyone happy. Defensively, Daniels’ has the skills and drive that every coach covets. He is engaged, active, and disciplined. If he continues on his current trajectory, he will add the ability to guard four positions to that list of positives.
Daniels is a prospect on the rise and he should garner consideration from the Blazers if their pick falls out of the top four.