Pelicans take Dyson Daniels from G League to No. 8 in NBA Draft
“I love playing defense and I can guard so many different positions,” Daniels said. “If my attack is not going well, I can stay on the field by being disruptive in defense. I have the tools – height, length and the will to defend.
“I can make plays for my teammates and best of all, I’m a winner. I’m ready to step on the floor right away and defend, steal and play with a lot of energy.
The Bendigo, Australia native averaged 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists for Ignite of the G-League last season.
“Playing in the G League helped me learn to play the NBA style,” he said. “I kept improving. It was really helpful for me to be where I am today.
Daniels, who joined Ignite from NBA Global Academy Australia, represented the Australian national team at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021, averaging 14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4 6 assists.
“We’ve seen it live at different times throughout the season,” Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon said. “He started the season quite slowly. The last half of the season he looked really good.
“He is very proud of his defense. He sees the ground and passes the ball well. He touched around the basket. He just has an innate sense of the game at both ends of the field. He really wants to win and that was really appealing.
The Pelicans had two second-round picks.
New Orleans selected 6-7 power forward EJ Liddell, who played three seasons at Ohio State as the 41st pick, and 6-10 forward/center Karlo Matkovic from Bosnia as the 52nd pick.
Langdon said the Pelicans “didn’t think Liddell would be here at 41 at all” because he was expected to be a first-round pick.
Matkovic is likely to stay in Europe for “the next year or two,” Langdon said, although he will play for New Orleans in the Las Vegas Summer League next month.
New Orleans, which has no significant free agents, has 14 players under contract for next season.
Daniels joins a backcourt that was bolstered midway through last season when New Orleans acquired veteran guard CJ McCollum in a trade from Portland.
McCollum, 6-foot-3, teamed with forward Brandon Ingram to lead a late-season push. McCollum’s backcourt partner was rookie Herbert Jones, 6-7, a second-round pick who was named to the second-team All-Rookie.
The Pelicans selected Daniels with an acquired pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in the trade of Anthony Davis three years ago.
The addition of Daniels adds more youth to what appears to be a rising squad. New Orleans overcame a 3-16 start last season to advance to the Western Conference play-off tournament with a 36-46 record. He won playoff games against the Spurs and Clippers before losing to top-seeded Phoenix 4-2 in a first-round playoff.
The Pelicans expect forward Zion Williamson, the 2019 No. 1 overall pick, to return next season after missing all of last season due to foot surgery. He played just 85 games in three seasons due to various injuries, but when healthy he showed the expected productivity when he was picked – 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3 2 assists per game.
McCollum and starting center Jonas Valanciunas are both 30, but otherwise New Orleans has a very young core.
Ingram is 24, Williamson turns 22 next month, Jones is 23, starting forward Jaxson Hayes is 22, as is last year’s No. 1 winger Trey Murphy III, who is 22.
“I know the Pelicans players very well,” Daniels said. “I’ve studied the game a lot and watched their players and seen the progress they’ve made. They’re going in the right direction.”
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