G League Ignite star Dyson Daniels speaks to the media after his initial training from Pacers
G League Ignite star Dyson Daniels is a predictable lottery pick.
James Boyd, Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis-Australia native Dyson Daniels is a projected lottery pick in the NBA draft on June 23, but his preliminaries, including one with the Pacers on Friday, aren’t his first time in the NBA world. He got an initial taste when he moved away from home and joined the NBA World Academy in the Australian capital Canberra when he was 16, taking a bigger dose by turning down colleges and playing alongside other top prospects and ex-NBA veterans. G League Ignite.
The 19-year-old Daniels has been at his best with the ball in his hands during a promising season for Ignite, a professional team founded in 2020 that competes in the NBA G League. But the 6-7 guard understands that won’t be the case at Indiana State .
The Pacers were replaced by superstar point guard Therese Halliburton last season, so whoever picks him up with the sixth pick in the draft will have to line up with the team’s most valuable player. Daniels, who has averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists on shooting 44.9%, 25.5% at 3 seconds and 73.7% at the free throw line in Ignite’s 14 games, thinks he could be that man.
“For me, this off-season was so focused on my shots that I was able to drop the ball so I could play off the ball,” Daniels said. “I’m confident with my shot now, so I feel like I’m playing here with a player like Thérèse, and it’s a very good lane too, I can play with the ball, cut spots and drop the ball. That’s something that has come a long way in my game, and it’s definitely something I’ve worked on because every team usually What he has is a basic ball wizard.”
Daniels, who said he has drawn comparisons to Halliburton and Lonzo Ball, was joined at the Pacers’ training facility on Friday by Cameron McGusty of Miami and Jermaine Samuels Jr. of Villanova. Jaden Ivey was supposed to be fifth at La Lumiere Center in Indiana, as well as Urbas Fuenlabrada’s Ziga Summer and Pavel Safkov of Aeroorgy SB, but all three missed practice due to flight problems.
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Their absences made the exercise more individualized, but Daniels said he still managed to show his prowess on both sides of the ball. Aside from improving his outside shot, Daniels is indeed a brave defender, which is welcome in the Pacers. Last season, Indiana had the third worst defensive rating in the NBA.
“I think from my defense you can see that in a movie and things like that, but when you come here you play 1 on 1, you play 3 on 3, 2 on 2, so you can show that in drills and things,” Daniels said. “Breaking through screens, using your hands, getting distractions, things like that. … Showing these are my main strengths and showing those offensive things I worked on as well.”
Daniels has also worked with the Pistons (pick #5), the Trail Blazers (#7), the Pelicans (#8), the Spurs (#9) and the Knicks (#11). It will soon work with Kings (#4) and Wizards (#10).
During the 2021-22 NBA season, Daniels was one of four G League Ignite players selected for the Rising Stars competition at All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. He won the event alongside Detroit’s Cady Cunningham and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, who were the #1 and #3 options, respectively, in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Also in the competition were a pair of Ignite alums, Galen Green of Houston (second pick) and Jonathan Kominga of Golden State (No. 7).
“Obviously these guys are great players,” Daniels said of Cominga and Green. “They earned their spot. They worked hard. I think G League (Ignite) is a legitimate path. That’s why I chose it. I thought it would work for me and give me confidence in the process.”
Less than two weeks left before Daniels’ NBA glimpses turned into everyday life. He is invited to the Green Room on a drag night in Brooklyn, where his childhood dream will finally come true.
“You just have to push it,” Daniels said of his eight pre-workouts. “It’s tough, but I enjoy the game. I love coming here. I love the competition. It’s hard on your body, all the flying, all the play, stuff like that. But the stakes are high, and at the end of the day, I hope it pays off.”