Slicin' and Dyson
Let me take you on a journey down under to discuss the next great Australian export, Dyson Daniels. The teenage sensation offers up a rare combination of size, skill, and feel that any team can use.
One of my newest obsessions within the basketball world is prospects from Australia. There must be something in the water down under that just breeds basketball geniuses because recent prospects like Josh Giddey and Taran Armstrong have some of the best feel for the game of any prospect I have watched over the last couple of years. We are about to add one more Aussie to the mix with 19-year-old guard/wing Dyson Daniels, who played this past season with the G-League Ignite. Daniels is listed at 6’6” and 199lbs., but Mike Schmitz of ESPN recently mentioned that he is now 6’8” in shoes and has a 6’11” wingspan. But Daniels isn’t just physically gifted—he also plays wise beyond his years. The game comes easy to him, and the impact carries over to both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Daniels does a great job moving the ball and finding open teammates, has a great floater game, and is an underrated driver of the ball. Daniels brings his most value on the defensive end. He is an excellent point-of-attack (POA) defender and is extremely disruptive to opposing offenses by using his active hands and instincts to force turnovers.
Now, no prospect is perfect, so there is one key area where Daniels will need to improve, and that’s shooting. He was far too inconsistent this season, and while he did show signs of improvement later in the year, there is no doubt that it will be the one question that teams have when evaluating him.
Don’t just take my word for it. Let’s go to the tape and dive a little deeper into the specific skills that Dyson Daniels possesses and why he could translate into a valuable NBA player almost immediately, despite being one of the youngest players in the 2022 Draft Class.
On offense, Daniels may not have the same passing flair as Josh Giddey, but he is really good at moving the ball and being that connective piece every team can use. Daniels is at his most impactful passing the ball in transition situations where he is quick to rifle outlet passes up the court for easy buckets. There’s no better example than this pass right here:
Daniels skies for the rebound, and before landing, he has his eyes on Scoot Henderson (likely Top 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft) and throws a perfect bullet pass upcourt for the smooth euro-step layup finish.
Daniels also shares the wealth in the half-court too. When operating in the pick-and-roll, he does a great job utilizing his size and vision to pick out the roll-man and create advantageous passing angles.
This might seem like a simple enough play, and that’s because it is. And that’s fine. Daniels shows patience here to lure the big man to him before dropping off a nice pass right at the basket. Take what the defense is giving you, young fella!
At the end of the day, Dyson Daniels has shown the ability to effectively make plays for others on offense. He leverages his driving ability and frame nicely to open up passing lanes and create open looks. He is the ultimate ball-mover, and I think he will be a great secondary playmaker who can run your offense from time to time if needed. Here are a few more passes I wanted to highlight to hammer this home:
Dyson Daniels doesn’t just pass the ball; he can put it in the bucket himself. His signature shot is the floater. He has tremendous touch on it; given his size, he doesn’t run into as many issues getting it off over larger defenders as some smaller guards do.
While Dyson Daniels does tend to lean on the floater a little too much, it’s tough to argue the results, especially within PNR settings where he averages 1.33 PPPP (Points Per team’s Possessions in this Playtype) off floaters, per InStat.
I mentioned earlier how Daniels leverages his driving ability to create passing opportunities, but he also can score himself at the rim. He may not get there as often or finish as frequently as you’d like, but he is far from a non-driver. The combination of size, speed, and athleticism should make him a prime candidate to become an improved finisher with added reps. I couldn’t pick just one or two clips to pull, so instead, I put together a compilation of over two minutes of Dyson Daniels drives:
He does a little bit of everything in the above video. Getting to the rim and finishing in isolation? Check. Drawing fouls? Check. Using a quick first step and change of direction? Check. Finishing through and around contact? Check. The skills are there; he just needs to attack more often and with more aggression. I don’t have many doubts that Dyson Daniels will turn into an above-average finisher during his NBA career. He actually ranked in the 60th Percentile on Drives this past season, per InStat, so he’s already done it!
For my money, Dyson Daniels is the best guard defender in this draft class, and it starts with his ability to stop defenders in their tracks on the perimeter. His POA defense is second to none in this class and is already a staple of his game. Daniels possesses great footwork and slides his feet well to wall off defenders attempting to drive on him. His strength and length allow him to frustrate opposing players of all sizes, and he is quick enough to swallow up smaller guards. I put together just under 2 minutes of clips to highlight his ability, including ones vs. more household names like Lance Stephenson, Jaden Springer, and Josh Primo.
Dyson Daniels doesn’t just do a great job staying in front of his man and contesting shots. He also has a knack for the basketball. His length and instincts allow him to be an extremely disruptive defender and force turnovers by tipping or intercepting passes. This shows up in the box score with his 2.0 SPG across the G-League Ignite Tour and Showcase. I think the thing I love the most about this part of Daniels’ game is he doesn’t overly gamble to get these steals. As you can see in the below video, a lot of them are just him being in great position, or timing jumps perfectly. I think this skill should translate nicely to the NBA, and it wouldn’t shock me if Dyson Daniels eventually leads the league in steals-per-game.
It feels like the phrase “a jump shot away” is thrown out a lot on Draft Twitter, but in most cases, it is used to describe a prospect who is a “jump shot away” from being an NBA player. In the case of Dyson Daniels, I think he is more of “a jump shot away” from being an NBA All-Star. There is no denying that shooting is the one major question mark when it comes to Dyson Daniels, as he scored just 0.92 PPPP on Catch & Shoot opportunities this past season and ranked in the 42nd Percentile in three-point shooting, per InStat.
However, there is hope as the shot did start to fall more towards the end of the season. Over his last six games, Daniels shot 10-of-19 from three-point range. Extremely small sample size and low volume, I know, but compared to his first six games where he shot 4-of-16 from three-point range, that is a major improvement. I think the area he should focus on first is improving his mechanics in Catch & Shoot situations.
The above clip is from early in the season, and you can see his body drifting pretty far to the left as he jumps. His left elbow also flares out a bit which also adds to his shot drifting off to the left for the miss.
Here is a more recent example of him shooting off the catch. It’s not the exact same angle, so it’s hard to see potential improvements, but his jump seems to be moving more forward than it does to the left (although still some leftward movement). His left elbow also seems more tucked, at least on the way up, so I believe his improved shooting numbers have to do with some minor tweaks in mechanics already.
In the end, Dyson Daniels had a successful campaign with the G-League Ignite this past season and is the best 2022 NBA Draft prospect on the team, in my opinion. His combination of youth, size, athleticism, and feel for the game is enough for him to be worthy of a Top 10 selection. The defensive impact shown at such a young age is extremely rare and is the main reason for my optimism regarding his NBA future. He also has offensive skills to his game that are valuable and some that will need to be improved in order to unlock his full potential. But, even if Dyson Daniels remains at just a 30.0 3P% shooter, he brings enough in every other aspect of the game that it is hard for me to not see him being a positive contributor to winning basketball.
Thanks for the excellent piece on my namesake Alex, he’s been one of my favorites, for all your piece clearly exhibits!!