Trail Blazers Host First Round Of Workouts Three Weeks Before Draft

Pre-draft workouts in Portland are back.

After not hosting draft-eligible players at their own practice facility over the last two years due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of picks, the Portland Trail Blazers welcomed Julian Champagnie of St. John’s, Dyson Daniels of the G-League Ignite, Darius Days of LSU, Mouhamed Gueye of Washington State, Fatts Russell of Maryland and Dallas Walton of Wake Forest in their first pre-draft workout of 2022 Tuesday morning in Tualatin.

In front of a collection of front office staff, coaches and players -- including General Manager Joe Cronin, Vice Chair Bert Kolde, Head Coach Chauncey Billups and Damian Lillard -- the six players went through a series of tests, drills and light scrimmages in an effort to prove they should be selected with one of Portland’s three picks at the 2022 NBA Draft. The Trail Blazers currently own the seventh, 36th and 57th picks.

Of the six players in town for Tuesday’s workout, only Daniels, a 6-6 Australian guard who opted to play professionally last season in the G-League for the Ignite rather than go the college route, is expected to be selected in the first round. Daniels averaged 11.6 points on 45 percent shooting from the field, 30 percent shooting from three and 53 percent shooting from the line, 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals in 29 games for the Ignite last season.

“Playing with the Ignite, you’re playing against players who are trying to get into the NBA, they’re on the verge,” said Daniels after his workout Tuesday morning. "You’re playing 48-minute games, NBA ball, NBA courts, everything about it is like there to help you get to the NBA. Obviously playing against NBA G-League teams, there’s going to be people watching every game as well. I think for me it just prepared me physically and just got used to playing the NBA style of play.”

Daniels has steadily improved his draft stock since the end of the G-League season and is now seen as a potential lottery pick on various mock drafts -- ESPN has him going to the Pacers with the sixth pick while the folks at The Ringer have him going to the Cavs with the 14th pick. Daniels noted that Tuesday’s workout in Portland was his first, though he also met with them in Chicago a few weeks ago during the Draft Combine.

“I just want to find the right fit for me, really,” said Daniels. “Whether that be Top 5, whether that be Top 20, I just want to find the right fit, a team that is going to want me, a team that’s going to play me, a team that I can contribute to, whatever team that may be.”

While the Trail Blazers have more talent at guard than any other position, Daniels’ size, ability to play both point guard and shooting guard (and probably some small forward as well) and potential on the defensive end are all likely reasons why Cronin and his staff wanted to get a look at the 19-year old on their own turf.

“I think, especially on the defensive end, I think that’s where my main strength is,” said Daniels. “I think I’ve got a good fit. They’ve got a great team, they’ve got some young guys, a mix of veterans and young guys. I think, overall, I could play on this team, there’s different roles I could go into as a player. I think I’d fit pretty well.”