I don’t want to bash Daishen Nix. I have nothing against him personally, but he seems to be an example of typecasting gone badly wrong. Sometimes one reads about the “first choice” person to be cast in a movie, who didn’t end up playing the part, and the person who did, way down the list, made the role iconic.
To use an example probably everyone knows, Harrison Ford wasn’t first choice to be Han Solo in the original Star Wars movie. Others considered ahead of him were: Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell. Those guys are hard to imagine in the role, but they sort of fit the idea of the part. They look the part, at least a little, trying to be fair, even if in retrospect the choice seems absurd and wrong.
Daishen Nix is like that. He looks the part of the beefy (6’5”, 225) do-it-all heliocentric centerpiece of the a five out offense that Stephen Silas very much wanted to install, against all player evidence to the contrary on his roster. Nix looks like he’d physically hold up to the abuse players like James Harden and Luka Doncic take.
Unfortunately, unlike the other possible Han Solo contenders, let alone young Harrison Ford, Daishen couldn’t act the part. Maybe that’s down to age. Maybe that’s down to the extremely high demands on a heliocentric offense generator. Maybe he simply doesn’t, and won’t, possess the skills to play that part. Not many players DO have that skillset. That’s why most teams don’t hand a 40% usage rate to one person.
It’s important to note that Nix was a five star recruit out of high school, ranked 16th in the nation. He chose to go the GLeague route, but didn’t have such a great year. He went undrafted, and the Rockets signed him, sent him to RGV, where he did pretty well.
He’s still just turned 21, but damned if that wasn’t a terrible year.
Those were, overall, 900+ minutes that the Rockets won’t get back, to use on someone else. Single game plus minus isn’t often that helpful, and on a woeful team like Houston, it’s just going to be bad however you slice it. Still, Nix’s +/- was -151, good for 133rd out of 137 undrafted players in the NBA. Nix’s minutes are, also, no surprise, in the running for worst amongst players with 900 plus minutes in the entire league, drafted or otherwise.
The eye test might have been worse. Nix looked slow, indecisive, and utterly unable to process the game at NBA speed. Everything he did seemed one or two beats behind the game. He couldn’t beat anyone off the dribble, and in fact, could barely keep his dribble. His shooting wasn’t good, and he was 67% from the free throw line. So he tended, despite being cast in the burly heliocentric star role, to avoid contact. He scored 4ppg in 16 minutes.
There’s more, but it’s basically all awful.
The Rockets themselves were also awful. It’s sometimes difficult to separate individual bad performance from team bad performance, but there’s really no way to look at Daishen Nix’s 2022-23 season that isn’t discouraging. Still, his story isn’t written. He looked to be badly miscast. He’s not the second lead. He’s not the romantic foil at this point. He may never be, but sometimes it’s possible to see more. It’s possible to see a good bench guard that can slot from PG to SF.
Maybe a new coaching staff can find what’s good about Daishen Nix, can trim down his lines, his responsibility, until they find what he’s actually great at doing. I hope so, as I wish Nix well, and hope he’ll succeed. But nobody should have been handed 900 minutes while playing like that, when there was another PG prospect on the roster.
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Playing outside the USA.