SBNation’s mock draft is in the books two days prior to the actual 2022 NBA Draft. The Portland Trail Blazers hold the 7th pick in Thursday night’s event. In real life, they’re likely to deal that asset in order to provide veteran help for a roster lead by 32-year-old Damian Lillard. In the SBNation mock, however, each team was forced to pick for itself, as if the franchise were banking on the draftee for future success.
While that eventuality would result in a chorus of sad trombones for the actual Blazers, in the mock draft alt-world, draft guru Steve Dewald coached Blazer’s Edge to select 6’7 G/F Dyson Daniels with the 7th pick. Inexperience aside, Daniels fills plenty of Portland’s needs at an inexpensive price, with significant upside potential.
Defense is Daniel’s calling card. Dewald described him like this in an earlier draft preview:
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.
Daniels also has offensive potential. He’s a willing passer with a good understanding of space. His shot is a work in progress, though. That’s a significant asterisk, as he’s not known as a shot creator. If he plays off-ball he’ll need to catch and shoot. If he plays on-ball, he’ll need a credible jumper to keep defenders from laying back, waiting for the pass or an as-yet-unproven drive attempt.
Either way, the 19-year-old will have plenty of years to iron out the rough spots. Shooting form is one of the more adjustable aspects of the individual game. Understanding the floor and being willing/able to defend it are more than enough of a recommendation to use the 7th pick of the draft on a young, upwardly-mobile wing like Daniels.