Is Dyson Daniels breaking out in New Orleans?
Daniels is steadily making his way up the pecking order on the Pelicans guards.
Dyson Daniels didn’t have the smoothest start to his NBA career. Drafted onto a competitive team led by Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the Bendigo native was forced to bide his time on the bench initially. He made just two appearances in the month of October, and seemed destined for garbage time minutes, until injuries offered a small window of opportunity.
Throughout the Pelicans’ preseason, Daniels competed with Devonte Graham and Jose Alvarado for a coveted backup point guard role. Head coach Willie Green threw a spanner in the works when he shifted C.J. McCollum to a starting point guard role, meaning Alvarado, Daniels and Graham were fighting for scraps. Even still, Graham was coming off an underwhelming 2021-22 season, and Alvarado’s position in the rotation was far from secure. The door was slightly ajar for Daniels, although not from day one as many had hoped.
The tide shifted in mid-November, when Daniels seemingly overtook Graham in the pecking order. In New Orleans’ win over Memphis on November 16, Daniels emerged from the wilderness, logging 17 minutes off the bench - much higher than Graham’s nine. There was cause for cautious optimism, but Williamson had missed that game due to injury, meaning Daniels’ position was tenuous at best.
However, over the following two weeks, the Pelicans were decimated by a string of injuries to key players - including Trey Murphy, C.J. McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones. Daniels’ playing time steadily increased towards the back end of the month, and culminated in a breakout game on November 30. Against the Toronto Raptors, Daniels came off the bench and logged his first 30-plus minute game, with a stat line of fourteen points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
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