NBA Draft 2022: How does Dyson Daniels fit on the Pelicans alongside Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum?

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All of a sudden there is an air of excitement in New Orleans. 

Coming off the back of a playoff appearance this past season, the Pelicans added another exciting young player to their core after selecting Australian Dyson Daniels with the No. 8 overall pick in Friday morning's NBA Draft. 

Daniels will get to team up alongside CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and the returning Zion Williamson, forming what the Pelicans hope will be a contending core for years to come. 

Daniels becomes the fifth Australian lottery selection since 2014, and the second consecutive after Josh Giddey was taken sixth by the Thunder last year. 

The 19-year-old is coming off an impressive season with the G League Ignite where he averaged 11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals, emerging as one of the most versatile, two-way players in the draft.

But how will Daniels fit in New Orleans? 

Defensive versatility 

Measuring in at 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Daniels is perfect for the modern NBA game. He's big for a guard and will be capable of defending multiple positions. 

Much like his new teammate Ingram, and to a certain extent Herb Jones as well, Daniels fist the mold of a positionless player, and will be able to cause mismatches on offense, and wreak havoc on the defensive end. 

“He’s an NBA-ready defender and he can handle any rebounds,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said on the draft broadcast. 

"He’s not as focused on offense because he’s a good team player but I think he’s a good offensive player. He’s just not a guy wired to look to score all the time. But his defensive chops, he’s ready to defend in the NBA right now.”

The Pelicans will likely go with a starting five of  CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Jonas Valančiūnas and Zion Williamson next season, while Larry Nance Jr., Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and Daniels will be the key guys off the bench, giving coach Willie Green a ton of options

Daniels & Zion connection

While Daniels may need to work on his offensive game a little, he should be able to fill the shoes of a player like Lonzo Ball and play well in a one-two punch with Zion Williamson. 

Williamson has shown he hasn't lost any of his athleticism coming off his injury, and if he returns like the player who averaged 27 points on 61 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds, the duo of Daniels and Williamson will be a problem.

Daniels moves well off the ball on offense and is more than a solid playmaker. 

Playmaking 

Daniels is in the mold of Josh Giddey and Ben Simmons in that he has some limitations on offense right now, but seems to have a knack for being able to make plays for those around him. 

Willie Green's system

Willie Green is probably the opposite of the majority of NBA coaches - he has a calm and even demeanor - and that's probably why his players love playing for him. 

At the beginning of training camp in 2021, he said he had three non-negotiable rules that expects at a high level: To compete; to defend, and to share the ball. 

Daniels will fit the bill on all three of those, and as he won't be expected to come in and be a focal point of the team's offense, he will be allowed to play with some more freedom as long as he fulfills Green's three non-negotiable rules.

Author(s)
Nick Metallinos is digital content producer for NBA Australia