NBA

3 Late Risers To Look Out For In The NBA Draft

Jun 13, 2022, 4:24 PM | Updated: 4:24 pm
Jalen Williams...
Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

With the 2022 NBA draft now only ten days away, teams have started to rev up their trade talks as we head into the final stretch of pre-draft rumors. Among those rumors are the annual late risers of the draft that didn’t generate buzz earlier in the year, but have slowly crept up NBA draft boards in the last few weeks. Not all of these prospects work out, Jerome Robinson with the 13th pick in the 2018 draft comes to mind, but it’s fun to see a zag from one team while the rest of the league is locked in on the consensus players.

Anyways, here are a few late risers to hit the rumor mill recently and what they could bring to their new homes in the NBA.

Dyson Daniels – Ignite

Dyson Daniels is the latest guy to rise up the draft boards, landing at No. 7 on The Ringer’s Kevin O’ Connor’s NBA Big Board. At first glance you may be wondering why Daniels has moved up in the draft process, shooting only 25.5% from three in the G League last season. But when you watch him play he has a great feel for the game, always finding the open spots on the floor for teammates to pass him the ball.

At 6-foot-6, Daniels has the size to be a good two-way guard in the league, able to defend against smaller point guards to versatile wings, thanks to his 6-foot-11 wingspan. While he’ll need to fill out more at the next level, weighing only 195 pounds at the combine, his length and intellect on the floor should be able to compensate for that early on in his career.

“But he’s not just a basketball nerd who studies hard—he plays his a** off and sets the tone for his teammates. Fans will love this guy immediately,” O’Connor wrote.

Additionally, his passing is what makes him such an intriguing prospect, able to squeeze the rock through any window of separation in the defense. He excels with his passing in a variety of ways, from a pick-and-roll lob to a teammate to grabbing a rebound and running the floor, laying it off for an easy two points. There’s no pass that he can’t make, according to O’Connor.

I don’t necessarily agree with KOC that he can make any pass, but he does come across as an excellent co-star for a team with a clear No. 1 option down the line. Think about his Australian counterpart, Josh Giddey, when thinking about Daniels’ fit in the NBA. A great teammate that understands his role as a facilitator, and is able to get the ball to the open man when driving to the basket. While not elite-level athleticism, he has the ability to be a late trailer on put-back dunks and rebounds, averaging almost six rebounds for the Ignite team last season.

His improvement as a shooter will be the key to his success in the NBA, boasting an inefficient 44.9% from the field on almost ten shots a game in the G League. If he fails to find his touch from the perimeter, defenses will be able to sag off him from deep, cutting off his driving and passing lanes. He’s only 19-years-old, so there is time to develop those skills but he’ll need to go to a team that can bring him along slowly to focus in his growth as an NBA player. He has a lot of tools to be successful but with a lack of a true shooting touch, he won’t get very far.

Best Fits: Portland, New York, Washington

Jalen Williams – Santa Clara

One of the lesser known names of the draft, Jalen Williams is a late blooming junior out of Santa Clara that has consistently improved over his three seasons with the Broncos. Currently ranked 18th on KOC’s Big Board, I would not be surprised to see him go in the top 15 of this year’s draft simply because of his playmaking and shooting abilities.

Listed at 6-foot-6, Williams has the body type of OG Anunoby with the skillset of Donovan Mitchell, able to create for himself with a variety of moves. Using hesitation, left to right crossovers and spin moves, Williams is able to create separation for himself in ways that translate seamlessly to the NBA game. Additionally, he’s great without the ball in the half-court, making 44.3% of his catch-and-shoot 3s last season in the WCC, getting to his spot from dribble handoffs to coming off screens. While it is against mid-major talent, the tools are transferable to the league, not afraid to take the open jumper.

His passing and playmaking abilities are also what make him an outstanding prospect, always making the right read to his teammates. He excels in the pick-and-roll like Daniels but looks way more threatening when doing so, given his ability to create for himself.

“Mature playmaker who stays under control at all times. Selfless passer who can seamlessly pass off the dribble using either hand. On the break, he makes tremendous outlets,” KOC wrote.

There aren’t many knocks on the junior’s game besides his first step burst which could lead to some of his shot creation to be neutralized at the next level. Also, his lateral quickness needs to improve to keep up with the athletes on the perimeter. A high-effort defender but too many times did he get blown by based off sheer quickness from his opponent.

Hitting his 21st birthday before entering the NBA, Jalen is more of a finished product compared to some of his draft counterparts. But even still, I project him as a very valuable role player that could absolutely contribute right away offensively for a contending team, potentially becoming a high-level sixth man if he is able to develop more of his game over the years.

Best Fits: Portland, Charlotte, OKC

Nikola Jović – Serbia

This one is more so because I’m intrigued by the player. A 6-foot-10 Serbian point forward that played guard in his younger years with the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. Currently listed at 24th on O’Connor’s Big Board, Jović played for Mega Basket in Serbia’s ABA league, earning the top prospect award of said league, last season.

Recently turning 19-years-old, the young Serbian averaged almost 11 ppg, 3.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds on .529 true shooting percentage. The long point forward uses his length and dribble moves on the perimeter to create separation, whether he’s driving to the rim or pulling up for the open jumper off a setback maneuver. Jović shot 34% from deep in his lone season with Mega, doing so off the dribble and in catch and shoot scenarios, unafraid to launch it from deep-three territory. The Serbian is also great in transition, able to grab the rebound and start the break in no time at all.

“Shot creation in the open floor is his best skill. He is able to change his pace and use hesitations while taking long strides toward the basket,” KOC wrote.

Think of him as a more athletic and quicker Danilo Gallinari, creating mismatches coming off screens due to his size and length on the perimeter. If you have a more athletic and attacking-minded guard or wing, he’ll be able to find them with his euro-style passing and playmaking abilities.

Jović will have a steep learning curve if he wants to be successful in the NBA, given his very slight frame for such a tall person. Coaches will want to put him out there as a stretch four but he’ll have little to no chance against the bigs of the NBA his first few years in the league. Additionally, he has a non-existent post game that will be necessary if he wants to grow his range as an NBA player. He’s also inefficient from the field at this time so he’ll need to improve on that if he wants to stick around in the NBA for a while.

“Subpar defensive player who suffers through stretches of low intensity. He’s a bit sluggish, which limits him as a switch defender. And he lacks beef on his body, so battling against NBA centers is a no-go,” O’Connor wrote.

Regardless, the kid is extremely young and was playing against grown men in Europe, often stiffer competition than his draft counterparts in collegiate play. There is no middle ground for a player like Jović, a true boom-or-bust talent entering the NBA. He will need to go to a team that can truly develop him and his unique skillset for a player of his stature, focusing on strength training the moment he steps foot in practice. His ability to finish and defend through contact will be the key to his success stateside, listed at 227 pounds. If he can add a good 25 to 40 pounds of muscle while keeping his quickness and shooting stroke from deep, look out, he may be the next unicorn in the NBA.

Best Fits: OKC, Houston, Denver (Jokić and Jović would be fun)

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3 Late Risers To Look Out For In The NBA Draft