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Dalano Banton will work out with the Houston Rockets on Thursday, per Jack Weingarten of basketball recruiting hub Stockrisers.com. A 6-foot-9 guard/forward known for his passing skills and versatility, the University of Nebraska product is eligible for the NBA’s 2021 draft.
In 27.3 minutes per game with the Cornhuskers, Banton averaged 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in the 2020-21 season. Shooting was a clear weakness, with averages of 41.1% from the field, 24.7% on 3-pointers, and 65.9% on free throws. However, the Toronto native is only 21 years old, and some NBA teams may forecast Banton’s shooting to improve with more time and work alongside professional coaches.
Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated recently identified Banton as one of the draft’s top sleeper prospects. Here’s a portion of his analysis:
If you’re an NBA team willing to take a flier on a player who can’t really shoot, investing in a huge, skilled passer is a pretty interesting thing to consider. Banton’s broad shoulders and long arms pop immediately on film, and his height gives him legitimate functionality using ball screens, able to see over defenders and giving him access to passing angles that smaller handlers don’t have. He delivers the ball well using a variety of passes, and his size allows him to rebound, push in transition and help facilitate early offense.
Banton has a long stride that helps him cover ground quickly, and, while not particularly explosive, he has a workable degree of pace as a handler and gets good extension in the paint on finishes. His overall feel for moving the ball stands out immediately, even as bad as Nebraska was this season. The playmaking seems bankable as an NBA-level skill.
Banton’s frame should also make him playable as a team defender—he’s listed at 6-9 and looks to be legitimately in that ballpark on film. His length allows him to effectively disrupt passing lanes, contest out onto shooters and have a visual impact on opposing guards.
“There’s legitimate role player potential here, and there should be interest in his services in the likely event he goes undrafted,” Woo writes.
Based on that analysis, Banton isn’t likely to be a consideration for any of Houston’s three first-round selections. Moreover, the Rockets don’t currently have any picks in the 2021 second round.
However, Banton might be in play for Houston as an undrafted free agent. Or, if general manager Rafael Stone is worried about Banton potentially choosing another team, the Rockets could perhaps buy a pick late in the second round to select him — as they did in 2020 to grab KJ Martin at No. 52 overall, which originally belonged to Sacramento.
At a minimum, Banton would seem to be a solid option for when Houston looks at prospects for its 2021 NBA Summer League squad.