Mike Daum is a 6’9” forward/big for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Nebraska farm-raised bucket-getter has athletic genes. As the son of two former professional athletes, Daum is equipped with NBA size/length and impressive coordination for his size. Daum has built upon this baseline size with hard work and countless shooting reps and evolved into one of the most accomplished scorers in the history of college basketball. Daum recently followed in the footsteps of fellow senior scoring sensation, Chris Clemons, by eclipsing the 3,000 career point mark and breaking into the top ten NCAA D1 all-time scoring list.
Daum has the Jackrabbits on the precipice of earning their fourth straight Summit League championship and NCAA tournament berth, with the hopes of pulling off a first round upset to earn the program’s first ever NCAA tournament win. If the Jackrabbits do make the big dance, NBA scouts and decision-makers will be looking for Daum to prove himself against high-major competition and help show that he has what it takes to compete against the longer, stronger, quicker athletes that await at the professional level.
Tale of the Tape
Daum’s size, girth, and his perpetual threat as a scorer make him a very impactful screener for the Jackrabbits. Though he doesn’t provide much roll gravity as a pick-and-roll diver, he has been one of the most deadly pick-and-pop bigs in college basketball throughout his career at South Dakota State. This is, perhaps, Daum’s most translatable offensive action to the professional level, as it is unlikely that he’ll be able to post up as effectively/frequently as he does in the Summit League.
Daum makes high-level reads as a high ball screener leading into his pick-and-pop actions. He reads the movement, coverage, and positioning of both his helping big and the guard that he is about to set a screen on. Based on the information he quickly gathers, Daum either sets up the appropriate screen angle and sets a sturdy, tough pick, or quickly slips and fades out to the three-point line. Daum’s decision-making as a screener often leads to his own open catch-and-shoot look from deep, or a relatively clean driving angle for the pick-and-roll handler if Daum’s scoring threat and gravity results in a minimal hedging, help, or drop coverage.
On nearly 2.1 pick-and-pop scoring possessions per game over the course of his career, Daum converts at a rate of 1.133 PPP, ranking in approximately the 77th percentile on 278 total possessions.
In the clip below, we highlight Daum’s ability to set up pick-and-pop actions and knock it down from deep.
Daum’s pick-and-pop opportunities primarily result in catch-and-shoot looks, but Daum has shown some flashes of improvement in his ability to attack closeouts by putting the ball on the deck in straight line drives. He could stand to improve his playmaking ability for others when defenses collapse, though he does do a nice job of taking care of the ball (only a 9.6 TOV%) and not forcing tough passes.
Rebounding / Putbacks
Daum uses his 7’3 ½” wingspan to both close defensive possessions and keep offensive possessions alive on the boards. He averages 11.8 rebounds per game, including 2.4 on the offensive end.
When Daum snags an offensive board, he excels at going straight back up with it and converting on putback attempts. Daum ranks as a 97th percentile putback finisher, converting at a 1.544 PPP clip. He does a great job of keeping the ball high and avoiding excess gathering/dribbles, utilizing his length to quickly tip or lay the ball in before the defense has a chance to react. This prevents opposing guards from digging in for strip steals and opposing bigs from having time to establish a rim protection front.
His functional length and knack for being in the right position when a shot goes up grants him the opportunity to convert on a couple of easy putback opportunities per game, and to draw a few fouls after pulling down offensive rebounds. Daum has also mastered the art of the one-hand tip-in as the ball slowly trickles off the rim, which serves as an indicator of his natural touch.
Daum’s effort and IQ also help catalyze his rebounding acumen. He reads the direction and trajectory of the oncoming shot attempt, carves out position early, and holds the opposition off until he secures the rebound.
In the clip below, we highlight Daum’s ability to secure offensive rebounds and convert quickly on putbacks.
Daum’s effectiveness as a collegiate scorer (the tenth member of the NCAA D1 3,000 point club) and winner (has led South Dakota State to a Summit League championship and NCAA tournament berth each season) is unquestionable. He has been on NBA radars since his breakout sophomore season, and a fair handful of NBA scouts have been in attendance at several South Dakota State games to get an up close and personal look at what he brings to the table and whether it projects to the NBA.
Daum made some brief appearances on a handful of mainstream 2018 NBA Draft big boards throughout his junior campaign. After a first round NCAA tournament loss to Ohio State and a lightning quick decision to return to school after briefly testing the 2018 NBA Draft waters, many hypothesized that Daum would consider grad-transferring to a high-major program as a means to increase his draft stock. Daum elected to return to Brookings for a final run with the Jackrabbits.
Daum, to his credit, has continued to produce in his areas of strength and has shown some tangible improvement in his weaker areas. He has made a notable body transformation subsequent to receiving feedback from NBA scouts and decision-makers this past offseason. Now more cut while maintaining functional lean muscle, Daum certainly looks more the part of an NBA stretch forward than he has in the past, but has fallen off of most draft boards. The skepticism of Daum’s translatability/upside is likely driven by a combination of his age, athleticism concerns, and lack of experience against high-level competition.
Despite these questions/concerns making Daum a longshot to be drafted, he projects to receive both Portsmouth and NBA Summer League invites. He could very well show out in both environments and prove himself amongst other NBA prospects. With strong performances at Portsmouth in April and Summer League in July, Daum has a chance of getting his shot at the NBA. This path likely entails time developing in the G League and eventually earning a call-up opportunity. If Daum chooses to go the overseas route in lieu of the G League grind, he would bolster his initial financial earning potential and likely be a seamless fit on a high-level European club. In doing so, he could certainly still make his way back to the States and pursue the NBA dream in the near future.
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