After averaging a staggering 25.8 disposals per game in year one, the versatile son-of-a-gun has effortlessly brushed off tagging attempts to begin the year, so far backing up the rookie-season heroics that landed him the league's Rising Star award.
There's no incorrect position to play Daicos. Anyone who's watched knows all about his 2022 exploits as a half-back-flanker, not to mention his midfield dominance as a junior and thus far this season. He could also plausibly be played inside the forward 50; his scoreboard impact is just as evident as his disposal accumulation capability.
Daicos put forth a tremendous showing against Geelong in Round 1, where he notched 35 possessions (leading all-comers) at a staggering 91 per cent disposal efficiency, seven marks, nine score involvements, and 579 metres gained in a rousing victory. Daicos doubled down on the second weekend of the season, earning 32 possessions (best afield, once again) at 84 per cent efficiency, six inside-50s, 11 score involvements, and 661 metres gained in a trouncing of Port Adelaide at the MCG.
While the statistics from his first two games are mouth-watering enough, the father-son prodigy's goal against the Power was especially mesmerising. The diminutive Daicos first participated in a circus-trick-like one-two play with Scott Pendlebury, then broke a Zak Butters tackle, causing the Port Adelaide midfielder to crumble to the MCG turf, before cruising inside 50 and setting sail from 40 metres out to send the Magpies supporters into delirium. It's surely the play of the year so far.
— AFL (@AFL) March 25, 2023
Allow me to dish out some more digits. Daicos is currently managing a per-game mean of 33.5 possessions, 5.5 marks, 5.5 inside-50s, 2.0 clearances, and 4.0 rebound-50s. He ranks first in the competition in effective disposals per game, second in possessions per game, and third in score involvements per game. His start to the season has been ludicrous, and ex-Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley echoed that sentiment on SEN.
"Nick Daicos, he's 28 games into his AFL career," stated Buckley. "I can't think of a player before or now that has (had as much) of an (immediate) impact on a game (in Daicos). I think his role is redefining the way the game is played, and when I think of the best players that I've seen play the game, they redefine the game.
"It's pretty phenomenal. To see him and (Scott) Pendlebury working together, my god it's pretty good."
However, for the purposes of analysing both sides of this statement, let's put Daicos aside for a moment. There has been an expansive array of prominent performances from players across the competition to start the season. Pertaining to the current Brownlow Medal candidacy, though, the only other player who has likely polled perfectly, or near to, is North Melbourne's Luke Davies-Uniacke.
The Kangaroos midfielder, put simply, has been electrifying throughout the opening two rounds. First, he played an instrumental role in helping surge his side to victory against the West Coast Eagles in Round 1, notching 32 disposals, five tackles, ten clearances, seven inside-50s, eight score involvements, and a goal.
Then, this past weekend against the late-charging Dockers, Davies-Uniacke propelled his side to a slender win in a hostile environment, collecting another 30 possessions and a goal. And, like Daicos against the Power, 'LDU' had a 'star-in-the-making' moment during Saturday's game that would have had most viewers in awe.
In the third quarter at Optus Stadium, after rag-dolling Fremantle's Heath Chapman off the ball, Davies-Uniacke, reminiscent of Chris Judd, one-hand-scooped the ball off the turf and scampered away from the contest, taking two casual bounces before exquisitely delivering inside-50 to the chest of Cameron Zurhaar. The ease with which he cast aside the helpless Chapman is mind-boggling.
— TheKing (@theindextracker) March 25, 2023
It seems impossible to argue that this duo of young stars is leading the AFL's best-and-fairest count after two weekends. It also seems likely that these two will battle for Brownlow favouritism throughout the year. However, it still feels as if Daicos is on his way to something truly special this season.