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Midnight Madness: NBA Draft Season is Here
Want to know how to set the tone for the NBA Draft season? Let me show you how it's done.
“As you know, madness is like gravity...all it takes is a little push.”
You know those days in which you read the “Draft Diary” pieces by Bill Simmons? Well, over the years… I’ve installed my own chaotic remix of that glorious segment. The only difference is that I focus it on Draft film consumption.
Every year, the NCAA championship game brings a jolt of excitement to the basketball world. Fans find themselves glued to the television screen to see what chapter of college basketball glory will be installed. But personally, it’s the beginning of an insane tradition that I have established recently. While it’s always Draft season over at No Ceilings, there’s something about the final buzzer going off after the national championship that flips a switch in my mind.
That’s when the Madness takes over, and the only thing you can do is hop on the train and hold on for dear life.
Now, I wouldn’t suggest this as a “fun” idea by any means necessary. This type of event involves a large amount of caffeine and some horrifying late hours into the night. After a season of discussing and analyzing the progression of certain players, it’s finally time to put on tape and get to damn work. The NCAA season is over, which means we now have all of the necessary film ready to roll. Sure, the International season will keep moving along…but we now have some serious firepower to work with.
So how is this going to work is probably a question that you might be asking yourselves right now. I’m going to be hammering out as many prospects and thoughts as I can throughout this segment. Consider this basically a therapy session in which I’m going to be talking about any thoughts off the top of my head when it comes to this Draft class. There are probably going to be some emotions and some laughter throughout this process. Hey, there’s even a chance that anger steps into the ring as well. It’s an exciting time to just let your brain get a little nuts.
11:45 P.M. PT - Picking the first prospect to dive into for “Midnight Madness” is a puzzling procedure. The Draft grind is such a mind tornado. You spend the entire year dipping your toes into the water for each prospect. Soon enough, you find yourself saying… “okay, what prospect is going to make me jump in the deep end with a belly flop?”
Music is key, as you need to be able to set the tone for a long evening of blogging your thoughts about prospects while trying to manage the desire to reference as many movies as humanly possible. I’ve been trying to include a Doc Holliday Tombstone quote in this piece for a good ten minutes; hopefully my brain will allow that to become a reality later on. For now, I think I’ve got to play “No Easy Way Out” from the Rocky IV scene. Fun side note, that scene is so incredible and probably one of the best montages in cinematic history.
Remember how epic that stairway scene is? Adrian literally just is at the top of the stairs after Rocky gives the most epic speech of basically saying “So hey, I’m going to go to another country and defend the death of my best friend.” Which leads to Adrian telling Rocky he can’t win, followed by one of the greatest looks of determination ever. That’s basically me tonight with the Midnight Madness, except Adrian just told me “You can’t figure out TyTy Washington.”
12:01 A.M. PT - It’s officially showtime. In my mind, this is a lot like when the Joker (Heath Ledger edition) crashes a party only to take a couple of steps before firing off a shotgun inside a building. As if everyone wasn’t surprised by the clown makeup and electric purple suit, he also needed to fire off a shotgun round into the air.
On that note, it only feels right that I start Midnight Madness off with a player that is starting to make an emphatic entrance to the NBA Draft party lately as well.
Dyson Daniels Mania
12:05 - There’s been a fascinating amount of buzz that is starting to make it’s course with basketball fans, especially when it comes to the die-hards in the NBA Draft community. I love this time of the year because a report comes out that a prospect grew an inch and everyone quickly goes “holy sh**, this guy is now bigger?” It’s as if we just found out a player secretly has the ability to actually activate NBA Jam mode in real life after making three shots in a row.
Poor jokes aside, it’s actually awesome to see that Dyson Daniels is starting to get some momentum. What’s been so fascinating about Daniels throughout the entire year is that he’s continued to climb up boards. Each NBA Draft class features a prospect that you keep falling more in love with as time goes by. It’s almost as if each time you finally turn off the tape, you find yourself saying “damn, that kid can play.” Daniels is absolutely leading the charge for the “Hey, why do I always feel good about moving him up my Big Board” award.
The strides that Daniels has taken over the year are simply eye-opening. Daniels is now rumored to be 6’8”, but he’s got good length and recently just turned 19-years-old in March. The playmaking and feel for the game stand out, but the improvement in production throughout the year will make you want to pick your jaw up off the floor.
First 20 Games:
11.4 PPG, 5.9 REB, 4.1 AST, 2.0 STL
47.1 FG%, 25.8 3P%
Last 7 Games:
13.1 PPG, 9.6 REB, 6.4 AST, 2.1 STL
45.1 FG%, 42.3 3P%
Daniels is going to be a popular name that NBA fans are going to start falling in love with. Trust me, you’re not going to be the only ones because there are going to be plenty of NBA Front Offices that are in love with the Australian-born guard as well. A smooth guard who plays the game with poise, Daniels has the raw tools to be a serious asset at the next level. One of the top perimeter defenders in the class, if Daniels’ outside shot is coming along…he could go much earlier than you can dream he might.
The Italian Stallion
12:45: Dyson was a great appetizer for this segment. It’s like going to a nice Italian dinner before realizing that the waiter brings out garlic bread and mozzarella sauce as an appetizer. By the way, there should be a law that every Italian restaurant provides garlic break and sauce as a bonus. It’s pretty much the biggest game-changer of all time. You know what else is awesome about Italy? Gabriele Procida.
If you’ve been following us closely at No Ceilings, then you should know that we are pretty much picking up as many potential members for the “Procida Hype-Train” as we can. Literally it’s the perfect train; there’s no shortage of seats. Watching Procida on tape makes you look around the room like “Wait guys, this is so much fun…please someone else realize how much fun this is.”
For those out there that don’t know about the real “Italian Stallion” (sorry Rocky), let me educate you quickly. Gabriele Procida is a 6’7” wing playing his basketball for Fortitudo. He’s 19 years old, and his film is basically used to help unhealthy marriages get back on track.
I seriously don’t know the last time that I saw a player have a dunk off an offensive rebound and look at their hand like it’s on fire. Seriously, if that’s a new thing that’s going to happen in basketball, I’m all for it. Procida has a smooth outside stroke and has the frame that NBA Front Offices are going to want.
1:15 A.M: There’s simply nothing more exciting throughout the Draft cycle than seeing a player start to showcase a stronger feel for the game. It makes you feel like Willy Wonka when he’s entering the Chocolate Factory. You suddenly find yourself wanting to bust out and start singing a magical tune to describe your incredible factory of candy-making amazement. That’s how I felt when Duke freshman forward Paolo Banchero started to take some serious strides as a playmaker near the end of the year.
Banchero has been such a fascinating prospect throughout the entire year. He went absolute bonkers to start the year after an impressive number of performances against Kentucky and Gonzaga. Then it seemed like we just started to fall in love with other “buzzing” prospects. Jabari Smith Jr started hitting shots from the parking lot. Chet Holmgren continued blocking everything imaginable. Johnny Davis started looking like Jack Nicholson breaking into a bathroom with an axe. So why did we fall out of love with Paolo?
I’ll be the first to admit there were some questions coming up throughout the year. Paolo looked to settle a bit, and the defensive questions continued to rise to the surface. But if you watched Banchero closely throughout the second half of the year, I think you’ll see some huge strides of improvement with his game. If Paolo is going to be the player he was near the final stretch of Duke’s season, then that is an entirely different monster.
There were simply too many times at the beginning of the year in which Banchero looked to be forcing the issue. During his final stretch of the year, it looked as if he was slowing down and allowing the game to come to him. It made him a much more efficient player, as his shot selection and playmaking all started to come together.
First 29 Games:
16.7 PTS, 8.1 REB, 3.0 AST
45.8 FG%, 30.6 3P%
Last 10 Games:
18.6 PTS, 6.9 REB, 3.5 AST
53.0 FG%, 42.4 3P%
The Ohio State Riser
2:02: There’s always a prospect in every NBA Draft class that starts to have me incredibly bothered with each passing night. It’s one of those strange situations where you could have a database of 100 players in front of your face, but one name almost looks as if it’s in bold.
Usually when this situation happens, it’s a puzzling situation. This year, I find myself convinced that Ohio State freshman wing Malaki Branham could be a player that surprises us on Draft night. I’m not saying I have any intel or anything like that, it’s just late in the evening here, and I’m trying to vent some thoughts to all of you Draft maniacs. Now Branham’s rise to the NBA Draft has been unreal.
Think about how crazy it’s all been. In the span of a month, evaluators all went from “Man, Branham could be a 2023 breakout candidate” to the quick realization of “wait…why aren’t we considering him for this year?”
Branham just seems like a guy that is going to have NBA Front Offices oozing when it comes to his offensive upside. A tough shot maker with multi-level scoring ability, there’s definitely a world in which Branham can be the “curveball” of the NBA Draft. It happens every year. We are all sitting and watching the Draft before Adam Silver walks out on stage to a plethora of boos (best tradition ever) followed by slowly announcing the selection, and then he says a name earlier than we expected and we all proceed to blackout for a brief moment as if we are waiting for Silver to say “sike.”
But Branham has the tools and raw upside to become a player that could rise again throughout the pre-draft process. He’s going to be a sneaky name to monitor closely throughout the combine and workouts. There’s a range in this Draft in which I believe teams’ boards around the league could vary drastically. Branham could be one of the players that possibly benefits from that.
2:34: I cannot get a pair of sleepers out of my mind. We all tend to fall in love with the “big names” at the top of Draft Boards, but I’m a guy that simply obsesses over trying to find a potential steal in each class. A pair of prospects continue to get my attention, mainly because I believe they can be serious assets if they fall into an ideal situation.
The first is Saint Joseph’s sophomore Jordan Hall. To quote Buddy the Elf, “I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it.” Hall is a 6’7” playmaking guard who just makes me drool with his vision and general feel for the game. I continue to find myself fascinated with Hall going to a playoff team as a potential rotation asset. Even recently, I brought up the question to our No Ceilings crew of “why shouldn’t Golden State take Jordan Hall to be Shaun Livingston 2.0?” I know it seems a little crazy, but I love the patience and composure that Hall plays with on the floor. He works to get to his spots, and he can fill up the box scores in a hurry.
Hall will be a prospect that I’ll monitor closely moving forward. Each time I turn on his tape, I find something new that I love about him. He’s one of those guys you might have as a second-round pick, but then you keep saying “wait, wouldn’t this guy be an awesome addition to your rotation?”
2:42: Another guy I just can’t simply stop falling intrigued with is TCU’s Mike Miles Jr. I’m a sucker for guards that will just keep coming after you. It’s like Duke talking to Apollo Creed in Rocky II. Remember the office meeting in which Apollo is desperately trying to get a rematch against Balboa? That’s until his trainer comes up and gives him one of the best all-time quotes ever.
“He’s all wrong for us, baby. I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before, and the man kept coming after you. Now we don’t need no man like that in our lives.”
That’s pretty much how I feel like opponents will probably describe playing against Mike Miles Jr. The kid is just an absolute grinder who is fearless on the court. Miles won’t wow you with his numbers, but he’s a guy that I’m just betting on to stick on an NBA roster. He’s tough as nails and will keep bringing it no matter what.
The Thin Man
3:01: Hey, did you guys know Chet Holmgren is skinny?
The Chet Holmgren “frame shame” (did I just make up a new phrase?) is going to continue to be the most overplayed storyline of the next couple of months. Look, guys, we get it. I challenge everyone while evaluating Chet to find a weakness that isn’t just his frame. Holmgren is going to continue to be overanalyzed moving forward, as is the case with every potential player that could find themselves in the running for the top selection.
While Chet’s frame will get the spotlight, what he’s been able to do on both sides of the floor this year is incredible. We will all be counting down the days until the Draft Lottery, as this year’s order will give us a better idea of who could go where, but Holmgren’s going to continue to be one of the most fascinating evaluations in recent memory.
3:10: So brings us to the conclusion of the first annual “Midnight Madness” at No Ceilings. It’s been an experience that was filled with way too much coffee consumption, but I hope you’re all as excited for the NBA Draft season as I am. Please remember, there’s no such thing as too much NBA Draft Film.
Johnny Ringo right now would ask me if I’m retired, and I would kindly respond…
“Not me, I’m in my prime.” See, told you guys I’d get that Tombstone reference in there.