Dyson Daniels was considering a move from Australia to college basketball in hopes of honing his perimeter skills to one day play in the NBA.
Instead, he’s the headliner this year among the growing number of players taking non-traditional paths to the NBA bypassing college entirely.
Daniels plays with G League Ignite, the team designed to develop elite prospects. Last year, Ignite had three draft picks — including top 10 picks from Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga — to have as many picks as any college team.
“I think it’s very legit,” ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony said of the G League road. “Every time they step onto the court, they face guys who were either in the NBA or elite-level college players. The level of competition is therefore extremely high. There’s nowhere to hide them in the field like that.
Daniels is the highest-ranked G League Ignite player on ESPN’s draft prospect list, ahead of winger MarJon Beauchamp and shooting guard Jaden Hardy. The roster also includes point guard Jean Montero, playing for the new Overtime Elite program providing another route for pro-prep hopefuls that Givony calls “compelling”.
In Daniels’ case, the G League Ignite route offered the most appealing option.
“Just the development on the court, with the coaching staff and the players we’re up against, playing the NBA style…it’s all going in the right direction for where I want to go,” Daniels said in a recent ESPN interview.
A look at how Daniels compares:
HEIGHT: 6ft 6in, 185 lbs.
STATS: 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks.
STRENGTHS: Daniels is ranked 12th on the ESPN prospect list with his height, length (6-10 wingspan) and ability to hold multiple positions. Givony said Daniels worked as a playmaker capable of playing anywhere on the court.
“He’s just a very selfless and versatile player, kind of in the mold of De’Anthony Melton, Tyrese Haliburton – that type of player, who won’t be your top scorer but he just does a bit of everything to help a team. to win,” Givony said.
WEAKNESSES: Daniels shot just 25.5 percent (13 of 51) from NBA 3-point range with Ignite in 14 games. But Givony noted that Daniels – who turns 19 on March 17 – continues to grow in his body as a “late bloomer”.
“It’s a transition and he’s making that transition now, as opposed to his NBA rookie season shooting those NBA 3s,” Givony said.
PROJECTED PROJECTION: first round, possibly late in the lottery.
A few other NBA prospects who bypassed the college ranks:
BEAUCHAMP: The 6-foot-7, 185-pound Beauchamp is ranked No. 15 by ESPN with the potential to be a defender, rebounder and transition scorer. “His ability to impact the game without games being asked of him is going to give him a role right from the start,” Givony said.
HARDY: The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Hardy is ranked 21st by ESPN in shooting ability and shooting range. But he’s only made 40.2% on 2-point shots and 26.9% on 3s in 12 games with Ignite, while having more turnovers (42) than assists (38).
MONTERO: The 6-foot-2, 172-pound Montero is ranked 20th by ESPN with an average of 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Overtime Elite program. Givony called Montero an impressive ball handler who is “really creative” in manipulating ball screens.
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