Welcome to the NBA, Dyson Daniels.
The Aussie draftee made his mark in his first real opportunity on an NBA court for the New Orleans Pelicans.
With Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram both sidelined through injury, Daniels saw extended run in the Pelicans’ 113-111 home win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday (all times AEDT) and shined.
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Wed, 26 Oct.
Wednesday October 26th
Daniels racked up 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, one triple, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block in 22 minutes of action – doing most his damage in a 15-minute first half stint.
Perhaps most impressively, Daniels did it while matched up on Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic in mighty first assignment for the young guard.
The No. 8 pick’s impact went beyond the stat sheet too, making plays on offense including a nice spin move and finish and being active on the defensive end – even remarkably picking Doncic’s pocket twice.
Above all, Daniels looked like he belonged on an NBA court as one of the most impactful players in the first half to show he has a very bright future.
“Daniels making an impact on this game at both ends of the flour in his first significant opportunity to play,” former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy said on TNT.
“I used to always say to guys at the beginnings of the season, everyone on the roster’s opportunity will come at some point, and it always does, it’s inevitable.
“The question is will you be ready when your time comes – and Dyson Daniels certainly has been tonight.”’
Daniels checked into the game with 4:35 left in the first term and was immediately matched up on Doncic in a tough introduction to the league and a big test.
But the 19-year old was up for the challenge.
He stayed in the game until just before the half-time – essentially playing 15 minutes straight – such was his impact including a particularly impressive second term where he kept Doncic honest offensively after the Slovenian’s early explosion.
Pelicans coach Willie Green clearly liked what he saw, so too did the rest of the NBA world.
“Dyson Daniels getting an extended run and making the most of it,” TNT commentator Ian Eagle said.
After the Aussie cut to the basket in the fourth quarter and converted a layup while getting fouled, Eagle added: “Daniels has been a revelation tonight for New Orleans.”
The Pelicans overcame a monster performance from Doncic, who finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals including missing the game-winning shot, to improve to 3-1 on the season and sit second in the Western Conference.
Elsewhere for Dallas, Spencer Dinwiddie (25 points) and Christian Wood (23 points, six rebounds) had big games.
Trey Murphy’s 22 points led eight Pelicans in double figures in a well-rounded showing and testament to their depth without Williamson and Ingram as well as Herbert Jones, while CJ McCollum added a 14-point, 11-assist double-double.
Given New Orleans’ impressive depth, it might be tough for Daniels to get consistent minutes moving forward on a team that looks primed to challenge in the West, however on Wednesday the Aussie showed he’ll be ready when called upon.
“That’s tough man. He’s 19 years old, which is crazy to me,” Murphy said of Daniels post-match.
“I was at Rice University at 19 – I promise I wasn’t guarding anyone in the NBA.
“It just shows how advanced he is and I’m super proud of him and the minutes he contributed this evening.”
Daniels had already played three minutes in junk time in the Pelicans’ meeting with the Brooklyn Nets in their season opener in what was technically his official debut.
He was drafted by New Orleans with the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft.