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Dyson Daniels: Ron Harper + Lonzo Ball?
Garbage Time Ghim and Evan Wheeler came together to talk about the G-League Ignite standout and talk about his many talents.
Albert: If you can actually believe it, we’re less than a month away from the 2022 NBA Draft. As we get closer to June 23rd, we’re breaking down some of the top guys again and diving into how we feel about them right before the draft. Evan and I are teaming up to make the most legendary duo since Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis. We’re breaking down Dyson Daniels, and by the end of this, he may end up in the Top 5 of your Big board. Evan and I are huge fans of Dyson, and we thought he’d be the perfect prospect for us to come together and do a collab piece about them. As excited as I am to be talking about Dyson, I’m even more excited for you guys to read more of Evan’s writing; the man is a legend. Now enough of the intro stuff—let’s get into Dyson Daniels.
Albert: So Dyson Daniels is pretty good, bro. What do you think the over/under is on the number of times they mention the fact that he’s from Australia on the telecast during the draft? 13.5? 14?
Evan: I think the bigger question is how many times will they compare him on the telecast to fellow Aussie wunderkind and 2021 draft darling Josh Giddey?
Albert: That’s a good point; it’s going to be hilarious when someone eventually compares the two on the telecast. The truth is, the two guys are really different players. That’s probably the most obvious thing I’ve ever said in my life but I think it’s important to put that out there.
What do you think Dyson’s highlight skill would be if you had to choose? With Giddey, it was definitely the flair he played with and his passing. What would you say for Dyson?
Evan: Both are very similar in ways, no doubt. They’ve got that “jumbo playmaker” archetype that seems to be so valued in today’s game. Daniels’s passing ability may not pop in the same way Giddey’s did/does, but he’s still a skilled playmaker. The defensive versatility and potential Dyson possesses, though, has to be one of the areas where he differs most from his compatriots. What’s your take, my friend?
Albert: I 100% agree with that. Dyson definitely grew into his body during his one season for the G-League Ignite and I think by the end of the season, he was visibly more comfortable in his frame. I think defensively, it was so fun to watch him get his chest into guys and move them off of angles and spots. He doesn’t have the same foot speed laterally of a Davion Mitchell, but he defends with a similar tenacity and the same type of chest-up technique. I also thought he used his length well to compensate for the lack of foot speed and overall showed a ton of fight on that end of the floor.
With his passing, it definitely wasn’t as flashy as Giddey, but it was plenty good. I thought he showed a ton of touch and accuracy that maybe isn’t as highlight-worthy but really important to winning basketball. With all that we just said, what kind of role do you see him playing on the offensive side of the ball? Do you see him becoming a primary initiator on offense or more of a high-end secondary option?
Evan: I’m totally with you, man. He utilizes his 6’11” wingspan as a defender so well, especially to engulf smaller guards when defending them on-ball. But also, as you pointed out, he additionally uses his length to recover when he gets beat defensively, which makes up for some of the elite quickness he lacks. I view him as a fantastic high-end secondary playmaker on the offensive end, though. I’m not sure he’s got the handle or in-between game yet to consistently break down defenders in isolation situations or to be considered a go-to scorer. However, I really like Daniels’s slashing ability and how he effortlessly glides at times when getting to the rim. He’s also an ambidextrous finisher, and I know you love the floater he has at his disposal. The early craft he’s shown as a scorer, combined with his playmaking upside has me excited about the complementary piece he can become in an NBA offense. Am I underselling his offensive potential, though? Or do you see him thriving in a similar role?
Albert: I love the fact that he can finish with both hands, as you said, but I do think the lack of the in-between game, elite handle, and burst will keep him from ever being a true number 1 option. I really hope he works on the mid-range game, though.
I know he has a beautiful-looking floater with great touch, but I’d really like to see him develop a mid-range game that he can rely on consistently. If he can somehow add that to his game, then obviously, the conversation changes drastically. Ultimately all these “ifs” are what make scouting and evaluating so hard. There are so many outlying factors that play into a player’s development. If only development were linear, then our lives would be so much easier. Can we talk about his shooting because I’m curious to hear what you think?
Evan: The combination of his floater and the ability he has to take advantage of smaller defenders on the post definitely has me hopeful about what Daniels’s scoring arsenal can blossom into. I know the 25.5% three-point shooting clip he sported this year for Ignite is going to worry many people, but I don’t know, dude; I found myself overall really buying into his shooting upside. I think his form and foundation are pretty sound. I also feel he got more assured and confident in his shot as the season progressed. There was a game-winner he hit back against Salt Lake City earlier in the year, which I loved seeing from a guy like him who has all these questions surrounding his shooting ability. He’s got the stones to take and make big shots, plus he already appears to be improving as a perimeter threat. At the very least, I think he’ll be a very proficient catch-and-shoot threat from behind the arc as a pro. Are you as optimistic as I am in Dyson’s shooting upside, or are you a bit more bearish on what he ultimately develops into as a shooter?
Albert: I think he’s going to be a pretty good shooter, but he needs some work. I like that he had a strong end to the season and his shot visibly looked better as the season went along. I remember watching him play against the South Bay Lakers at the start of the season, and his shot took forever (watch the video above). It reminded me a lot of Popeye loading up for a big punch. It took a long time and you could tell he was thinking through the motion.
To his credit, the shot did look smoother by the end of the season, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m 100% confident he’s going to be a really good shooter at the next level. His 73.7% mark from the free-throw line is pretty good as well and worth mentioning because I’ve always believed that the best shooters hit their free throws at a high clip. Ultimately, I think he can be a decent shooter, but I don’t know if he ever becomes an elite shooter. Considering all that he can do on the floor, I don’t think it’s imperative for him to ever be an elite shooter; decent is going to be more than enough. Now let’s get into comps—I’m excited to hear who he reminds you of as a player.
Evan: I love what you said at the end there about it not being imperative for him to be an elite shooter in the NBA, given the versatility he brings all over the floor. If the shooting develops to that level, it’s almost like the extra cherry on top for whatever franchise selects Daniels on draft night. I think the progression he made, too, from a mechanical and confidence standpoint as a shooter, as we both mentioned, is again something I really believe in going forward. I’m equally excited to hear your comps, my friend, given your love of outside the box-90’s comps (true story, Albert once gave me Bimbo Coles as a player comp. This man is next level, folks). Daniels is a blend of Kyle Anderson and Lonzo Ball to me, primarily due to what he brings as a jumbo playmaker and defender. Who do you think he compares well to, my brother?
Albert: Hahaha I’m extremely proud of my Bimbo Coles comp; I don’t remember if you decided to use it or not. The photo I attached above is the exact trading card of him that I had growing up. That name and that card will never leave me.
I really love the comps you gave because those guys are both players that you can easily rely on to be secondary playmakers on a contending team, which is what I think we both see Daniels becoming. The best comp I can give is the one that I gave on The Draftdaq NBA Podcast a couple of weeks ago. That player would be Ron Harper. Now I don’t know if Daniels will ever be a 20+ point per game scorer, but I think the two guys have similar skill sets. Daniels is a jumbo guard like Harper, who could run the offense and be effective in any system as a ball mover and supporting player. Harper was a really good defender that could guard multiple positions; he also averaged more than a block per game a couple of times in his career. I think Daniels could do the same and also offer some rebounding as Harper did as well.
I also like the fact that Harper was never a great shooter but had a good mid-range shot and shot it at a decent clip from the free-throw line for his career. Daniels obviously doesn’t have the mid-range game, but I think Harper had that more because of when he played. Guards couldn’t survive back then if they couldn’t shoot from the mid-range. Harper was essentially a 19/5/5 guy for the vast majority of his career, and I think there’s a world where Dyson ends up with similar-looking numbers. Before we wrap this baby up—if you had to come up with a list of three teams that you’d like for him to end up on, who would they be?
Evan: The Ron Harper call is a sensational one and a comparison for Daniels that I haven’t really seen anybody else make yet. The value that a player with that type of versatility brings to a team gets overlooked quite often, given the way they can become such a foundational piece of a championship-level rotation. Harper was so instrumental to those Bulls ‘90s title runs, and that’s definitely the role that could be best suited for Daniels to fill as a pro. I think Dyson really has a shot to be an awesome secondary piece in the way we’ve discussed. For me, I really see him thriving in that Kyle Anderson-type role or even developing into a better version of that. I think the way that Anderson utilizes his craft, playmaking, defensive, and post-scoring skills are eerily similar to the things Daniels does on the floor and can bring to a franchise.
As far as where I’d like to see him get selected on draft night, that’s a tricky question because it feels like Daniels could be a good fit for most of these teams picking in the lottery. I’ll start with the Portland Trail Blazers as I think he’d fill a huge role for them in terms of adding a perimeter defender, and he should be able to play off of both Lillard and Simmons with ease. The second team for me will be the Washington Wizards. I genuinely have no idea what to make of Washington’s current roster makeup or what direction they want to go in, especially given that Bradley Beal’s future with the team is seemingly always in limbo. They’ve just got such a hodgepodge of parts, but the thing is, I do like a lot of the parts they currently have. Between Avdija, Bryant, Gafford, Hachimura, Kuzma, and Porzingis, Washington has some intriguing talent on their roster. I think Daniels could be the perfect compliment next to that core, giving the Wizards a much-needed playmaking threat in the post-John Wall era. Lastly, I’m going to go with the New York Knicks. I just think Thibs would love Daniels’s defensive versatility and potential, plus he’s a good fit offensively next to RJ Barrett in the backcourt, in my opinion. What three teams do you want to see Dyson land with, man?
Albert: As a Knicks fan, I love the idea of Dyson playing next to RJ and Quickley. I think he compliments those guys really well with his playmaking and defense. If his shot develops as we mentioned above, then he becomes a beautiful running mate with those guys. I could even see him running the second unit with Miles Mcbride and Quentin Grimes from day one. After losing Reggie Bullock last year, they decided to just not replace his perimeter defense, and they paid for it, big time. The Knicks need versatile wings, and Dyson is definitely that.
I could easily see him go to any spot from 6-14. I don’t think there’s any chance that he falls out of the lottery, and I think any team after #5 could grab him, and it wouldn’t shock me at all. If I’m being honest with myself, I could even see him going to the Pistons at #5. Daniels with Cade and Saddiq Bey would mean the Pistons now have a trio of modern wings that can carry them into contention in a couple of years. I’m not necessarily lobbying for the Pistons to take him at that spot because I do believe there are better options there, but it wouldn’t shock me if he did go there. Instead of going through every team in that range, all I’ll say is that the guy is not hard to fit into your team. I personally think he could play on every team in the league and be just fine. Gun to my head, I’d say he goes in the Top 9, and I don’t think that’s a hot take at all.
Before we wrap this one up, I have one last question. Will Dyson Daniels be the greatest Australian basketball player of all time one day, or is it a given that it’ll be Tyrese Proctor? Hahaha.
Evan: This is why I love talking hoops with you, man, because you enlighten me to things I may simply overlook. I would be really intrigued by the Pistons taking him at #5 and seeing what a Cade Cunningham-Dyson Daniels duo could blossom into in the future. Although, the Killian Hayes truthers are going to come for us now, so thanks for that, Albert! I love what you said at the end there in your response, too: “I personally think he could play on every team in the league and be just fine.” That quote really embodies perfectly how we both view Daniels as a prospect. He seems to fit like a glove with nearly every franchise selecting in this year’s lottery. Lol, you just got to promise me that we’re going to do this again for Proctor next year! Breaking down the yearly dynamic Aussie draft prospect might be our new tradition! Haha.
Albert: And just like that, I’ve offended some fans, we talked a ton about Dyson, and it’s time for us to say goodbye. If you enjoyed our conversation, go read our other stuff and tell people how awesome we are. Love y’all! Evan and Albert out, Peace!