“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Dyson Daniels is a 19-year-old guard from Australia who averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 14 games with the G League Ignite. He is expected to be selected among the top-15 picks in the upcoming NBA Draft and as high as No. 5 overall. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 9.

NBA-Specific Skills

After reviewing all the footage I could find on Dyson Daniels, I’ve taken to calling him “the spackler.” He fills all the gaps. If your roster has cracks in it, you’ll be happy you have some Dyson Daniels in the tool shed.

Daniels does a little bit of everything, but it’s his playmaking skills and basketball IQ that have vaulted him into the lottery conversation. Standing a legit 6-8 and still growing (a 6-11 wingspan too!), Daniels can fling pinpoint passes with either hand – lobs, pocket passes on the pick-and-roll, no-looks to a cutter. Daniels also excels when it comes to grabbing a defensive rebound and pushing the break. He’s a tremendous rebounder for his position and loves to run any chance he gets.

Much like fellow lanky Aussie Josh Giddey, Daniels plays with an unorthodox rhythm that creates openings in spaces defenses don’t expect. If other guards play in a standard 4/4 time signature, Daniels prefers syncopation.

He might have an even higher upside on the defensive end. He is one of the draft’s best one-on-one defenders and he is equally comfortable playing in space, either disrupting passing lanes or playing on the back line and protecting the rim.

It’s hard to find effective two-way wings who can create shots for teammates on one end and cover for defensive lapses on the other. Daniels projects as a high-level role player and a possible starter who enhances a superstar’s impact.

On a scale from 1-10, Daniels’ size and basketball IQ on both ends rate at a 9.

Fatal Flaws

He can’t shoot. Not even a little bit.

Daniels’ offensive game consists primarily of floaters or off-kilter leaners in the lane after getting by his initial defender. He is a dreadful 3-point shooter (25.5% on 3.6 attempts per game) and a lackluster foul shooter (73.7% for a penetrating guard isn’t ideal).

Daniels shows terrific touch on the hardest shots near the rim, but his jumper needs a full overhaul. He will need to develop into at least a passable catch-and-shoot player to unlock the positive aspects of his game.

If teams can simply ignore Daniels on the perimeter, he will have an extremely tough time getting into the lane. He’s a good-not-great athlete and he isn’t blessed with a quick first step or on-a-string handles. Killian Hayes had a similar pre-draft profile, and he has yet to adjust to the NBA’s speed and athleticism. Daniels could face the same struggles.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Daniels’ shooting woes and average athleticism rates at a 9.5.

Pre-NBA Setting

Daniels comes from a strong basketball lineage. His father, Ricky, was a solid role player for the NC State Wolfpack in the mid 1990s before becoming one of the best players in the history of the Bendigo Braves in Australia. After a stellar youth career, Daniels followed in his dad’s footsteps, joining the Braves in 2019 at the age of 16.

Daniels was thrust into the international talent pipeline right away, joining the NBA Global Academy and contributing at a high level to a variety of Australian national teams. He elected to join the G League Ignite (the training ground for Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, among others) instead of spending a year playing college basketball or sticking around Australia.

He showed flashes of what made him such an in-demand prospect, particularly with his eye-popping steals numbers and the ways he can impact winning without having to take a ton of shots. But his perimeter shooting started cold and somehow got worse as the season went along (30.4% from 3 in November, 21.4% in December). Granted, 14 games with the G League Ignite isn’t exactly a robust sample size, but it did put the full Dyson Daniels experience on display.

On a scale from 1-10, Daniels’ pre-NBA career rates at a 7.5.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

Daniels almost seems to have been created in a laboratory in Sam Presti’s Oklahoma City basketball compound.

If Daniels is still available at pick No. 12, expect the Thunder to snatch him up. Daniels, Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all on the court at the same time? Presti would love nothing more than to see five players between 6-6 and 6-8 all flinging highlight-reel passes to each other and missing seven out of every 10 3-point attempts.

Daniels makes a lot of sense for the Portland Trailblazers at No. 7. They must do something to help take some of the playmaking pressure off Damian Lillard, and they desperately need anyone willing to take pride in playing defense. Daniels doesn’t have the upside of some of the players at that range, but he provides exactly what the Blazers are missing at the wing.

The San Antonio Spurs will take a long look at Daniels with the No. 9 pick. They still employ the world’s best shot doctor in Chip Engelland. If he can work his magic on Daniels’ subpar jumper, the Spurs could end up with another steal.

On a scale from 1-10, Daniels’ situational dependence rates at a 9. He is a young, high-upside playmaker with a lot of tools, but he will need a forward-thinking squad with a good shooting coach to put him in the best positions to succeed.


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