As the 2022 NBA Draft inches closer, the Detroit Pistons have begun private workouts with some of the class’ top prospects. One such prospect is Dyson Daniels of the G-League Ignite.
The 19-year-old from Australia spent the 2021-22 season with the Ignite. He averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest with the team.
The Australian native fits the prototypical build that Pistons’ GM Troy Weaver covets in his players. Daniels stands at 6-7 with a 6-11 wingspan. He is a lengthy wing with good athleticism.
Detroit currently holds the fifth pick in the draft. Reports indicate the team has a serious interest in Iowa forward Keegan Murray, but the team is reportedly interested in acquiring another lottery pick via trade. If Murray is the pick at five, it would come as no surprise if Jerami Grant is moved to a team like Portland or New York in exchange for a lottery pick. Even a team just outside the lottery like the Atlanta Hawks is in play.
A potential Grant trade for another top 14 pick opens the door for the Pistons to take a player like Daniels. The Pistons are searching for a backcourt partner to pair with their star, Cade Cunningham. Guys like Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin and Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe are already on Detroit’s radar if it acquires another pick. However, Daniels could be a late riser up the team’s draft board.
Dyson Daniels is the best defender in the draft
Daniels is a day one impact on the defensive end of the court. The 19-year-old combines great size, good footwork and good instincts to dominate on defense. He has the size to guard multiple positions. Daniels should be able to guard ones through threes immediately, and he has the potential to guard some fours as he fills out his frame.
He has great lateral quickness on the perimeter. Daniels consistently cuts off driving lanes and gets vertical to block pull-up shots. Opposing ball-handlers are rarely able to shed Daniels on drives to the rim. On the rare occasions he does get beat off the dribble, Daniels is able to recover extremely well.
As an off-ball defender, Daniels is never caught ball watching. He has good defensive awareness and does not let up many backdoor cuts. He also functions well as a help-side defender when asked to do so. Daniels uses his 6-11 wingspan to play passing lanes and shroud ball-handlers. He averaged 1.9 steals per game with the Ignite.
Daniels was not defending college players with the Ignite. He matched up against some of the better players in the G-League. Daniels guarded the likes of Josh Primo, Lance Stephenson and Jonathan Kuminga. His experience guarding NBA-level talent should help Daniels be an immediate plus player on defense.
Dyson Daniels can be Detroit’s secondary playmaker
Weaver and the Pistons’ front office have made it clear they are searching for a backcourt partner who can take some playmaking responsibilities off Cunningham’s shoulders. Last season, it was Killian Hayes and Cory Joseph who filled that role. This offseason, the team is looking for an upgrade.
During his time in the G-League, Daniels showed a natural playmaking ability. The 19-year-old wing has good court vision and he consistently makes good reads with the ball in his hands.
Daniels has a knack for finding cutters, completing dump-offs and threading the needle on a cross-court pass. His head is always up and he is constantly looking to keep the ball moving. Daniels is very unselfish. He often looks to pass first, giving up a good look in exchange for a better one.
Transition offense is where Daniels thrives as a playmaker. Daniels likes to push the pace. He often turns a steal or defensive rebound into a quick pass down court to a running teammate. These passes do not always lead to assists, but they set up a numbers advantage for his team in transition. He is also very good at hitting outlet passes off drives in transition.
There are some weaknesses in Daniels’ game that hold him back from being a primary ball-handler. But, in an offense where Cunningham plays the role of a primary playmaker, Daniels can slot into a more comfortable role supplementing Cunningham. Daniels can take a load off Cunningham’s shoulders every few possessions and change the pace of play in the process.
Areas of improvement
Despite his talents, Daniels is far from a perfect prospect. There are glaring weaknesses in his game that hold him back from being a potential star at the next level. It is important to note that while these are major areas of improvement for the young wing, he has flashed potential in these areas as well.
Daniels’ shot mechanics are not broken by any means. Compared to other draft prospects in this class who struggle as shooters, Daniels actually has decent mechanics. He gets his shot up in one fluid motion, and his footwork is overall solid. Despite decent mechanics, the 19-year-old struggled to knock down his outside shots with the Ignite.
Daniels shot 25.5 percent from beyond the arc on 3.6 attempts per game in 2021-22. He shot even worse on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Opposing teams often left him unguarded along the perimeter, and Daniels still struggled to get his shots to fall.
Three-point shooting is Daniels’ biggest area of improvement if he is going to reach his full potential at the NBA level. However, he did show some improvement late in the season. During the Ignite Tour, Daniels shot 33 percent from beyond the arc. He also reportedly shot well during the NBA Draft Combine.
Shooting could be key to Daniels’ success in the NBA, so any improvement is a good sign for the 19-year-old.
Daniels does not have a great first step. He has a good handle, but he is not going to shake defenders with it. He struggles to consistently get to the rim. Defenders are able to cut off the Australian’s lane and push him off his line. He does not have the counter moves in his bag to get around them either.
At this point in his career, Daniels is not a good self-creator. He struggles in isolation and does not generate enough contact to draw many fouls. Daniels is a work in progress when it comes to generating his own looks. While the moments are few and far between, he does have some moments where he flashes potential.
When Daniels does manage to make his way into the paint, the floater is the shot he favors most. Where Daniels is truly in his element is in the post. Daniels takes advantage of size mismatches very well. He backs down opposing guards into the paint where he can go to work on them in the post.
Does Dyson Daniels fit in Detroit?
Dyson Daniels has seen his draft stock rise in recent weeks. A good draft combine performance and the allure of a 6-7 ball-handler can do that. It is unlikely the Pistons select the 19-year-old with the fifth pick, but if the team acquires another lottery selection, Daniels is definitely on the table.
The key is Daniels improving his outside shot. The Pistons were a poor three-point shooting team this past season, ranking 29th in team three-point percentage. Adding another poor shooter into the mix is not conducive to improving one of the team’s most glaring flaws. Daniels is great on the defensive end and he has natural playmaking abilities, but none of that matters if he is unable to play as an off-ball shooter.
If Daniels continues to develop his shot, as he has shown late in the G-League season and in the combine, he could become a respectable three-point shooter. If he cannot improve as a shooter, the team would probably be better off giving Hayes another shot starting next to Cunningham.
(Featured Image Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)