3 players the Pelicans must develop (and 1 they should give up on)

Herbert Jones & Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Herbert Jones & Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Dyson Daniels Pelicans
Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Dyson Daniels

Last year’s rookie, Dyson Daniels, quickly proved worthy of the Lonzo Ball comparisons many made pre-draft. He was a thin, tall playmaker who impressed with his instincts on both sides. In particular, his defense turned heads – Sam Vecenie of The Athletic stated that Dyson is better than Herbert Jones – thanks to his length and intelligence.

Particularly in the first half of the season, Daniels was routinely given elite defensive assignments. He delivered, most notably shutting down Anthony Edwards on a game-ending possession.

Unfortunately, his playing time waned as the season continued due to his non-threatening offensive game.

Dyson needs in-game reps to get comfortable taking open threes. Daniels is a decent finisher (66% at the rim as a rookie). But his shooting percentages plummet from anywhere that’s not a layup, and he prefers lofting floaters to absorbing physical contact and getting to the charity stripe.

More troubling than the percentages is the volume. Daniels only took 3.0 threes per 36 minutes, a too-low number for someone the team hopes can play next to Ingram and Williamson eventually. Daniels prefers to put the ball on the ground or move it to the next teammate unless he’s wide open – admirable qualities in moderation, but in excess, they gum up an offense that needs spacing. He’ll need to get comfortable taking semi-contested shots.

Daniels is a fantastic and unselfish passer. He needs to tighten his handle to unlock his playmaking further and get to the rim more often. The good news is that he seems to be working on his weaknesses.

There will be growing pains, and Daniels’ play in this year’s Summer League has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, he has been more aggressive, averaging more than 13 shots per game. On the other, he’s only shooting 40% from the field and 13% from deep. (Bonus Summer League note: when I saw him in person, it looked like he’d grown an inch and gained some muscle – encouraging signs for his ability to defend bigger wings.)

Daniels has been working hard with legendary shooting coach Fred Vinson (the man credited with fixing Ingram and Ball’s jumpers), and the team is confident they can fix his mechanics (he needs a higher release point and a quicker trigger). Dyson has a chance to turn into the rare wing-sized point guard with 3-and-D-and-a-little-more skills, but the Pelicans have to give him room to fail and grow.