Dyson Daniels highlights first Portland Trail Blazers predraft workouts
Draft season is in full swing for the NBA and the Portland Trail Blazers, who held their first predraft workout session at their practice facility Tuesday.
Highlighting the six-man crew was Dyson Daniels, a projected lottery pick coming from the G League Ignite squad.
Daniels is projected in most mock drafts in the No. 5-8 pick range with the Blazers sitting at No. 7 in the upcoming draft.
For the Australian Daniels, he said all he's looking for is the right fit and believes Portland would be a solid one if chosen.
"I think they got a great team, they got a mix of veterans and young guys," Daniels said. "I think my role I can play on this team is a role I can go into as a player, and I think I'd fit pretty well."
So what exactly is that role for the 6-foot-6 lengthy guard on a team that has had solid guard depth for the past 10 years behind Damian Lillard?
Daniels said after the workout that he believes he can be a defensive go-to for any position at the NBA level, which is certainly a big need for Portland as that guard depth isn't the strongest on that end.
"Especially on the defensive end, I think that's where my main strengths are," Daniels said. "I think I can step on the floor and play right away in that area. The offense is coming along."
Speaking of that offense, Daniels admits to a slow start with Ignite this past year, but ended up with 11.6 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2 steals and 0.7 blocks in 29 games, all of which he started. He shot 45.3% from the field, 30% from deep and 53.3% from the line.
Defensively, you can't teach size, and sitting at 6-foot-6, Daniels would be another smaller forward that Portland already has with guys like Justise Winslow, Nassir Little and Josh Hart in some situations.
Despite the slow start offensively and being a little undersized, Daniels is regarded with a high ceiling and has plenty of room to grow.
"I've always had good defensive instincts, growing up I've always been kind of long and had good lateral quickness," Daniels said. "I've got the tools and defense is a lot about heart and hustle, so you just got to bring it, you gotta play hard."
In addition to Daniels' heart and hustle defense, he did take the route of playing in the G League instead of a year of college ball.
Daniels said it took some adjustment to playing the game in the "American" style, which he described as more up tempo and fastbreaking than in Australia.
While Daniels was adjusting, the question marks for the public grew as the Ignite route for NBA prospects is still a relatively new pipeline that fans aren't accustomed to. Games are broadcast the same way as college ball and the G League isn't as big of a draw either.
But by playing in the G League, Daniels and other prospects get a chance to play the game with more of an NBA feel than college. They play 48-minute games, same court sizes, same NBA ball and plenty of team scouts watching every game whereas college might have some blind spots.
Simply put, Daniels thinks the G League path put him in a better spot going into the 2022 draft.
"You're playing against NBA G League teams, there's gonna be people watching every game as well. I think, for me, it prepared me physically and I got used to playing that NBA style of play."
Other players at the first workout of the summer included Julian Champagnie from St. John's, Darius Days from LSU, Mouhamed Gueye from Washington State, Fatts Russell from Maryland/Rhode Island and Dallas Walton from Colorado/Wake Forest.
Champagnie, Days and Gueye are all listed as forwards while Russell is a guard and Walton is listed as a forward/center.
While the group of five might not be lottery guys, Portland still has picks 36 and 59 they can use to help fill the roster.
Champagnie averaged 16 points a game in three seasons at St. John's while also grabbing 1.5 steals and 1 block a night and was twice All Big East First-Team. His 6-foot-8 frame and strong defensive numbers appear as a solid fill in at forward.
Not to be overlooked is Walton either with his Colorado connection. Walton is from the state and went to CU, Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups' former school. Plus, Blazers GM Joe Cronin is also from the Centennial State.
Portland is slated to have more workouts over the next few weeks leading up to the June 23 draft. While the expectation is the Blazers might end up trading their No. 7 pick, there's plenty of time for prospects to make an impression in the Blazers' gym.
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