Dyson Daniels could be next Lonzo Ball for the Pelicans

Dyson Daniels #3 of the G League Ignite (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
Dyson Daniels #3 of the G League Ignite (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images) /

When the New Orleans Pelicans drafted Dyson Daniels, they got a big, playmaking guard who can defend but has a questionable shot.

Sound familiar?

Dyson Daniels has some similar qualities as Lonzo Ball, who is also a big guard who makes plays, defends, rebounds his position well and came into the league with shaky shot.

Lonzo has gone through a bit of a transformation over the years, becoming more of a high-volume 3-point shooter and one of the league’s better perimeter defenders, while playing more off the ball than he did early in his career.

The Pelicans are hoping the same happens for Daniels, who will be forced to play more off the ball in the NBA on a team that already has several talented playmakers. Daniels, like Lonzo, will undoubtedly be putting in the work with shooting coach Fred Vinson to try and improve from long range.

Daniels, also like Lonzo, is a long defender who can guard several spots and wants to be great on that end.

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Daniels has even been dubbed “The Australian Lonzo” by some in the fanbase because of their similarities and the fact that Daniels listed Lonzo as one of his favorite players.

So that leads to the obvious question.

Why didn’t the New Orleans Pelicans just keep Lonzo Ball?

We’ve been over the Lonzo saga a million times, so I won’t belabor the point, but I don’t think the Pels’ refusal to offer him a big deal had anything to do with his talent.

Wings who can make plays, defend and can knock down 3-point shots at a high rate on high volume aren’t easy to come by and are the perfect types of players to put around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Lonzo thrived in that role for the Chicago Bulls, who started off the season as one of the league’s best teams.

It was Lonzo’s contract that was really the concern, especially considering his inability to stay on the floor for full seasons and the fact that the Pels were getting ready to bet their future on the health of Zion Williamson.

Lonzo played just 35 games last season and 55 the season before that. He only played in 52 and 47 games in his first two seasons with the Lakers before hitting his career high of 63 games his first season with the Pelicans.

I think that probably made the Pelicans proceed with caution, as it’s hard to have a “Big 3” of guys who are always getting hurt. If the Pels had kept Lonzo, they probably wouldn’t have CJ McCollum, so in the end it worked out.

The Pelicans need a guy with all of Lonzo’s skills, and Dyson Daniels could eventually become that guy. The biggest difference is that he’ll be on a rookie deal and will hopefully stay healthy, though he didn’t get off to a great start, spraining his ankle in Summer League.

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