Contributing Writer: Will Morris (@W_A_Morris)
Dalano Banton was a 4-star recruit in the 2018 high school class who committed to Western Kentucky. Unfortunately, Banton struggled to find a role with the Hilltoppers, averaging just 3.4 points, 2.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. The Toronto native did have a couple of statement performances in his first college season, including an 8 point, 10 assist, 13 rebound outing in a win against Wisconsin. But playing time dwindled as the season progressed, and Banton opted to search for a new home.
Transfer-hungry former NBA coach Fred Hoiberg came calling, and Banton became a Cornhusker. After being forced to sit out last season as a red-shirt transfer, Banton has caught the attention of many this year with his unique style of play.
- In the 6’8”-6’9” range
- 6’10.25” wingspan
- 205 lbs.
- Has grown ~3 inches and added 20 lbs. since High School
*Barttorvik did not track Nebraska vs. Doane College, which is why some of the percentages in the two charts differ.
|Per Game||Per 100 Possessions|
|Field Goal Attempts||9.8||17.7|
|Free Throw Attempts||4.5 (.454 FTr)||8|
|Steals||1.4 (2.5 STL%)||2.5|
|Blocks||0.9 (3.6 BLK%)||1.6|
42.9% of All FGM Assisted
Unassisted FGM Distribution:
- 54.2% Rim
- 33.3% Mid-Range
- 12.5% Threes
The money-making skill here is obvious. Banton’s vision and feel as a passer is eye-popping. Through 11 games, he trails only Scottie Barnes in assist rate for 6’7”+ high major players.
Banton is an excellent pick-and-roll passer capable of making just about every read. His size allows him to see over defenders, taking advantage of windows that smaller ball-handlers are unable to.
3 excellent PnR passes from 6'9" Dalano Banton: skip pass to the weakside corner, feed to the roller after snaking, and hits the lift. pic.twitter.com/q1GRxOQSFC
— Will Morris (@w_a_morris) December 29, 2020
Looking more closely at the first clip in the tweet above, we can see that Banton comes off the screen staring down the roll-man, tricking #2 into helping on the interior. This opens up an easy skip pass.
Banton’s kick-out passes are works of art. The play below is a simple sequence. Banton drives, Rocket Watts helps off of his man, and Banton passes it to Kobe Webster for an open three. It’s a fairly easy read, but it really displays Banton’s mastery in making life easy for his teammates. Watts is playing far off of Webster, so Banton can probably swing the ball at any time and give his teammate a relatively open attempt. However, Banton waits until right before the shuffling Watts plants his left foot, at the point where all of his momentum is pushing him in the opposite direction of Webster. This timing makes any sort of closeout impossible.
This is wizardry. Banton is moving at nearly full speed with all his momentum pushing him forward. Heck, it almost seems like he’s about to fall flat on his face. Yet somehow, the ball is delivered right into the shooting pocket of Teddy Allen.
Banton is also a great passer from the post and from a standstill. He can make plays with his back to smaller defenders, and does an excellent job finding cutters from the wing or the top of the key. Peep the pass fake to enlarge the window on this lay-up pass.
Banton thrives in grab-and-go situations, turning defensive rebounds into easy buckets for his teammates.
Banton’s comfortability handling the ball is noteworthy. However, there is a difference between comfortability handling the ball and being truly dynamic. Banton’s handle is a bit high for my liking, and he struggles to change directions and explode out of dribble moves. This will likely prevent him from carrying heavy half-court usage. Ideally, he’ll be placed into a secondary or tertiary creation role.
While Banton’s lack of pop and physicality show up in the clip above, he’s certainly at least a competent slashing and finishing prospect. Shooting 68.7% at the rim in 41 career college games is no easy task. He uses his massive stride lengths to penetrate defenses, and he’s able to get pretty low for a high-hipped skinny guy. Banton can contort his body to finish at weird angles, absorb contact, and has good touch both at the rim and on short floaters.
The issue is that Banton’s handling and burst deficiencies prevent him from getting to the rim on his own, and over 40% of his rim makes are assisted. Nebraska does a good job getting Banton downhill without forcing him create advantages off the bounce. Off-ball screen sets like the one shown below unlock his finishing ability.
Dalano Banton is a very good finisher (68.7% at the rim in 41 college games) who can't always get there by himself. I love these kinds of sets for him. When attacking a defender already on his heels, Banton can better take advantage of his stride lengths+strength. pic.twitter.com/et75ukVoCl
— Will Morris (@w_a_morris) January 4, 2021
This full speed hand-off action is similarly effective.
The biggest hole in Banton’s offensive game is his jumper. So far this season, he has shot 29.7% from three on 6.1 attempts/100 possessions, 73.5% from the free throw line, and 33.3% from mid-range. Those aren’t disastrous shooting numbers by any means, but given that he’ll be 21-years old on draft day, I do wish his jumper were a little bit further along. It seems like he’s at least on the right track given where he was in his Freshman year (24.1% from mid-range, 55.9% from the foul line, and 21.6% from three on lower volume at Western Kentucky).
It takes eons for him to get it off, but when given time and space, he doesn’t have the ugliest looking shot. He has even shown some proficiency on pull-ups from inside the arc and threes from well beyond the line when uncontested. More issues arise when he has a hand in his face. Below is a contested, one-dribble pull-up. Banton’s process gets sped up and the result is an ugly miss.
Other note: every now and again he’ll pull-off something wacky like this (my lord the landing mechanics)…
For a player with high hips and slightly overdeveloped legs, I think Banton’s on-ball defense is actually pretty sound. He takes advantage of his length to contest pull-up jumpers and uses his frame to prevent dribble penetration. His stiffness will prevent him from man-guarding shiftier NBA players and he lacks the strength to defend larger wings. That being said, I still think he has the movement skills necessary to stick with slower-footed twos and weaker fours on the perimeter.
His biggest weakness as an on-ball defender is definitely his screen navigation. Banton never gets skinny over screens, and more often than not just gets bounced out of plays entirely. His screen navigation woes are apparent off the ball as well.
On closeouts, Banton does a nice job using his long strides to cover ground quickly and contest, or occasionally even block outside jumpers. However, he closes out way too hard at times and his stiffness makes him susceptible to blow-bys.
To start the year, Banton has posted a 2.5 steal rate and a 3.6 block rate. Many of his blocks come while defending on-the-ball or closing out on a shooter. His instincts as a weak-side rim-protector are pretty good, but his poor tools cloud his future projection. Does he have the length, strength, or pop to actually deter shots against NBA athletes?
I would like to see him be more disruptive in the passing lanes. His steal rate is very good, but it could even be substantially higher. In the two clips below, Banton would likely pick up deflections if he just put up his arms.
Banton’s awareness off-ball awareness is another point of concern. He loses track of his man far too often and has his issues with back cuts.
In sum, Banton probably won’t be a guy who provides tremendous defensive value, nor will he be a guy who holds a team back. If his awareness and playmaking skills take a step forward, he has the chance to be a slight-positive on the defensive end. If not, he still probably provides enough value with his size and movement skills to only be a slight-negative.
It’s insane to me that Banton was a patchy rotation player in the Conference USA. Somehow, after transferring up to one of the best conferences in college basketball, he is a legitimate pro prospect. What’s even more interesting is that when we look back at Banton’s Western Kentucky numbers, it’s clear that most of his struggles came on the offensive end. With a worse jumper and an ugly 31.5% turnover rate, Banton posted a negative offensive BPM. Now, I view him as an offense-presenting prospect.
Banton’s blend of size and passing could help any NBA team, but the question marks surrounding that elite skill lead me to conclude that this is a very situation dependent prospect. Ideally, he joins a team that already has plenty of floor spacers and play finishers in place, along with a guard initiator capable of getting into the teeth of defenses. Teams with those pieces already in place should consider him in the back-half of round one.
Yet, even if Banton ends up in a situation that could conceivably maximize his value, he still needs to prove he can do one thing: shoot. I’m not saying that Banton is a jumper away from being a star-level prospect, but rather, that his inhibiting flaws as a creator fade if he develops a reliable shot. He doesn’t need to be gunning off heavy motion or hitting step-backs. If he can just hit open spot-ups and basic pull-ups with middling volume and efficiency, the pathway to high-level offensive value becomes clearer. If not, he could struggle to stick.
Banton’s shooting indicators leave me skeptical, but I don’t think we can ignore the fact that he is on one of the stranger developmental curves in recent memory. Outlier improvement is very much in the cards here.
Editor’s Note: Everyone welcome Will to our team, he did a tremendous job on this piece and does great work on the NBA Draft. Follow him on twitter (@w_a_morris)!
Plenty of more scouting reports are on the way, stay tuned!