Miteri, no. Dyson Daniels believes he is ready to contribute immediately to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Aged only 19 years old, he has made just 26 J-League games since coming to the United States from his native Australia.
But the Pelicans saw enough in Daniels to use the eighth pick in the NBA draft to pick the 6-foot-8 guard on Thursday night.
“I like to play in defense and I can protect many different situations,” Daniels said. “If my attack isn’t going well, I can stay on the ground by disrupting my defense. I have the tools—height, height and the will to defend.
“I can make plays for my teammates and best of all I am a winner. I am ready to get on the ground right away, defend, steal and play high.”
The Australian Bendigo native averaged 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists for Ignite from the G League last season.
“Playing in the G League helped me learn to play the NBA style,” he said. “I kept getting better and better. It was really helpful to be where I am today.”
Daniels, who joined Ignite from NBA Global Academy Australia, represented the Australian team at the 2021 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, averaging 14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
“We saw it live at various points during the season,” Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon said. “The season started rather slowly. The last half of the season looked really good.
“He takes great pride in his defense. He sees the ground and passes the ball well. He touches the basket. He just has an innate sense of the game on both ends of the floor. He really wants to win and that was really attractive.”
The Pelicans had two second-round picks.
New Orleans picked 6-7 strength forward EJ Liddell, who played three seasons at Ohio State with a 41 pick and 6-10 forward/center Karlo Matkovic of Bosnia with a 52 pick.
Langdon said the Pelicans “didn’t think Liddell would be there at 41 at all,” because he was expected to be a first-round pick.
Langdon said Matkovich is likely to stay in Europe “for the next year or two,” although he will play for New Orleans in the Las Vegas Summer League next month.
New Orleans, which does not have any significant free agents, has 14 players on contract for next season.
Daniels joins a backyard that was reinforced midway through last season when New Orleans acquired veteran guard C.J. McCollum in a business deal with Portland.
McCollum, 6-foot-3, teamed up with forward Brandon Ingram to lead an increase late in the season. McCollum’s backcourt partner was rookie Herbert Jones, 6-7, a second-round pick chosen for the All-Rookie second team.
Pelicans picked Daniels with a pick acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade three years ago.
The addition of Daniels adds more youth to what appears to be an up-and-coming team. New Orleans beat the start of last season 3-16 to qualify for the Western Conference Playing Championship with a record 36-46. He won elimination matches against Tottenham and Clippers before losing to top seed Phoenix 4-2 in the first round series.
The Pelicans expect striker Zion Williamson, ranked No. 1 overall in 2019, to return to next season after missing the entirety of last season due to foot surgery. He only played 85 games in three seasons due to various injuries, but when he was healthy he showed the productivity that was expected when he was selected – 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
McCollum and starting center Jonas Valanciunas are both 30 years old, but other than that, New Orleans has a very young core.
Ingram turns 24, Williamson turns 22 next month, Jones turns 23, starting striker Jackson Hayes, 22, as last year’s No. 1 winger Trey Murphy III, 22.
“I am very familiar with the Pelican players,” Daniels said. “I studied the game a lot, watched their players and saw the steps they made. They are going in the right direction.”
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