New Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels flying up the rookie rankings

Dyson Daniels #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Dyson Daniels #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans got the rare opportunity to draft in the lottery after making the playoffs last season and selected Dyson Daniels with the 8th pick.

It’s a great position to be in, as the Pels got to add more elite young talent into the pipeline of a team that was already good. Most of the players in the lottery went to bad teams, but Daniels ended up on the stacked roster of a playoff team that was getting Zion Williamson back.

We knew he might not even make the rotation this season, and early on it looked like that might be the case. But Daniels kept making the most of each opportunity and has earned a permanent spot in the rotation with his defensive versatility, surprising shooting and ability to set up teammates and finish at the rim.

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It looks like the Pelicans may have done it two years in a row in the draft, as last year they got Herb Jones, who ended up being the best defender in his class, and Daniels looks like he might be that guy this year.

He’s starting to get noticed, as ESPN released their early-season rookie rankings and Dyson Daniels is soaring up the list.

New Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels in the rookie rankings

Here are ESPN’s top-10 rookies so far this season from 1-10:

  • Paolo Banchero
  • Bennedict Mathurin
  • Jaden Ivey
  • AJ Griffin
  • Dyson Daniels
  • Jalen Williams
  • Jabari Smith Jr.
  • Jalen Duren
  • Andrew Nembhard
  • Walker Kessler

As you can see, this is a far cry from the 2022 NBA Draft order, as only five of these players were drafted in the top-10.

The big movers are Griffin, who was taken 16th by the Hawks, Mathurin, who was 6th, Dyson Daniels (8th), Walker Kessler (22nd) and Andrew Nembhard, who was a second-round pick.

There is an argument that Daniels should be even higher considering the players ahead of him have gotten more opportunity, and if he keeps making an impact for one of the best teams in the NBA, he will be by the end of the season.

Here what Jonathan Givony had to say:

"“…he has already established himself as arguably the best defender in this rookie class while shooting 41% for 3, rebounding in bunches and facilitating for others.He’s still developing his hunger for scoring and has room to grow with his frame and ability to handle contact, but he’s making significant progress seemingly every time he steps on the court and is still only 19 years old. Daniels has been the NBA’s best rookie according to several metrics (Box Plus-Minus, Real Plus-Minus, net rating) and will draw more attention to his play if he continues to perform in a bigger sample.”"

The New Orleans Pelicans weren’t counting on instant production from Daniels, but his emergence has helped make them one of the deepest teams in the NBA and is one of the reasons their future looks so bright.

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