Australian guard Daniels entering the NBA draft

Australian guard Daniels entering the NBA draft

6:28 PM ET

Australian guard Dyson Daniels will enter the 2022 NBA draft, he told ESPN Saturday.

“I’m all in for the draft,” Daniels told ESPN. “I feel more than ready for this next step in my career and I’m excited for this process to begin.”

Daniels, the No. 10 prospect in the ESPN 100, is attempting to become the second consecutive player to be drafted in the lottery after graduating from the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, following in the footsteps of Josh Giddey, the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Daniels had an outstanding season in the NBA G League, averaging 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals in 32 minutes over the course of 26 games. He was invited to match up with some of the NBA’s best rookies and sophomores as part of the prestigious Rising Stars contest during NBA All-Star weekend, helping his team win the championship by posting four points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the final game.

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“This year with G League Ignite was a success for me in what I was trying to get out of it,” Daniels said. “I was able to learn a lot about myself and where I belong on the floor. I got more and more comfortable in my role and was constantly learning off veterans like Pooh Jeter, Kevin Murphy and our great coaching staff. NBA teams were able to see that I can guard multiple positions and be the best defender on the floor, as well as my ability to run a team and make plays off the bounce. My shooting stroke improved and I gained comfort playing off the ball as a cutter and spot up shooter.”

The 19-year-old Daniels was the first highly touted player the G League Ignite, an alternative pathway to college basketball created by the NBA for elite draft prospects, landed from outside the United States high school system, representing a shift in the program’s recruitment. Daniels has been on NBA radar screens for some time, being invited to the NBA Academy Games in Atlanta as a 16-year old in July of 2019, where he measured 6-foot-5 in shoes and 162 pounds, and has steadily grown into an elite level prospect, now standing 6-foot-8 in shoes and 200 pounds less than three years later.

Daniels competed at various NBA Academy events around the globe and received his first call-up to represent his home country’s senior national team in the FIBA window in February of 2021 at the age of 17, posting 23 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 6 steals in a shellacking of New Zealand. He also had a strong showing at the FIBA U19 World Cup last summer, posting 14 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.3 steals in 27 minutes for Australia.

Daniels’ transition from the NBA Global Academy to the G League wasn’t seamless, as he struggled in the early going with the physicality and pace of the American game, as well as with the distance of the NBA 3-point line, which is further back from the FIBA line. As the season progressed, he looked increasingly comfortable, gaining strength, amping up his aggressiveness substantially and doing a better job of asserting himself. NBA scouts now almost unanimously point to him as the best prospect in the Ignite program, and he has a chance to potentially crack the top-10 of this year’s draft with a strong pre-draft process. While he’s long been considered an elite defender and highly intelligent playmaker, he hit 45% of his 3-pointers over the final nine games of the G League season, which included several near triple-doubles, looking like a different player than earlier in the year.

“I struggled initially to find my fit on the team as we had so many good scorers,” Daniels said. “But as the season went on and coach put the ball in my hand, I was able to find myself as the primary playmaker. We built our chemistry and learned our roles in the team, which helped me take my game to the next level.”

“One of the things I’m looking forward to showing NBA teams is my ability to create my own shot. That’s something I’ve been working hard on. I’m looking forward to showing them my versatility playing multiple positions and using my basketball IQ to be a problem solver.”

Daniels will join Giddey, Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and others as a second-generation Australian professionals to join the NBA ranks, as the son of American expat Ricky Daniels, who went to college at North Carolina State and settled down in Victoria after many years with the Bendigo Braves. His brother Kai Daniels plays college basketball at Division II Regis University in Denver, while his younger brother Dash is a standout at the youth level in Australia with Bendigo, where Dyson also got his start in basketball.

Dyson says he studies many NBA players’ tendencies on both ends of the floor to help determine how he can fit in early in his career.

“Offensively, I’ve been watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luka Doncic. I like the way they use their change of pace, creative passing and basketball IQ to read the game and make teammates better. Defensively, I look at Mikal Bridges, Alex Caruso, Matisse Thybulle and Lonzo Ball. I like how they get over screens, read and impact the game. Personally, I want to play my role at a high level, helping a team win with my winning mentality and competing every possession on both ends. “

The NBA draft combine will be held May 16-22 in Chicago, and the draft will be held June 23 in Brooklyn

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

Source: ESPN NBA

    

Author: Ellen Garcia