Dyson Daniels needs to step up to make mark on Team Australia

Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans. (Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans. (Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Dyson Daniels still has to worry about making the team, much less starting, as Team Australia’s FIBA World Cup training camp kicks off.

Team Australia (known as the Boomers) was one game away from the FIBA World Cup Finals back in 2019. They won a bronze medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics, and this squad is as stacked as ever. New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels will be battling for a spot over the next ten days as the 18-man squad gets sorted down to the 12 who will get on the plane.

It seems 10 of the spots will be filled by NBA players. Head Coach Brian Goorjian has Patty Mills and Josh Giddey set as the starters. Daniels will be competing against Matthew Dellavedova, Chris Goulding, Dante Exum, and Will McDowell-White for the reserve minutes in the rotation. Daniels got some extra run during Summer League to get ready, but will he do enough to win a job?

Charting the Competition

Daniels has to compete against the following players for a roster spot: Matisse Thybulle (Portland Trail Blazers), Dante Exum (Dallas Mavericks), Xavier Cooks (Washington Wizards), Matthew Dellavedova (Melbourne United), Chris Goulding (Melbourne United), Will McDowell-White (NZ Breakers).

“It’s going to be a good team, tough team to crack,” Daniels told the Sporting News, “but I’m going to go out there and give it my best shot, and hopefully, I’ll be able to go over there to Japan and show them what I’ve got.”

The Boomers have lengthy defenders and lethal shooters capable of running teams off the court with suffocating defense and up-tempo transition buckets. That’s where Daniels thrives, getting to show off his dominant defensive traits, an incredible knack for grabbing rebounds, and near-elite passing vision. However, the FIBA game will become a grind in the elimination rounds.

“We’re trying to win, man,” Mavericks guard Josh Green added. “We were able to get a bronze medal at the Olympics, and it was cool, and it was great. But I think everybody’s goal this year is to go for gold. Just go in there with a competitive nature and be ready to go.”

The guard rotation race is wide open, and so is this FIBA World Cup title. Daniels also said, “Team USA are the slight favorites, but we are up there,” on the Ball Magnets Podcast. Will he get a chance to face off against Brandon Ingram in the knockout rounds?

Summer League Shot Was Cold

Daniels made two three-pointers in Las Vegas. Going 2/20 is acceptable in the no-pressure laboratory of Summer League, but Australia is going for gold. The whole country is going to be watching. Is Daniels ready? Dellavedova has more FIBA experience, and Goulding, who has been trusted before, already has the green light to fire away.

Daniels shot 27 of 86 (31.4%) from three-point range as a rookie. That’s simply not good enough for a team needing shooting/spacing to make a run to the FIBA World Cup Finals.

The second-year prospect averaged 14.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks over five games, saying he “felt really good in Vegas. Coming off a season where I didn’t finish the way I wanted to, I wanted to come into Summer League and have a good run, to play with the ball in my hands a lot, run the team, be able to play free and play confident. It was good fun to be out there playing with the ball,” Daniels told The Sporting News.

“I had a good run, did a little bit of everything, played defense, scored the ball, assisted the ball, rebounded the ball, so [it was] good to just be out there playing again. Like I said, I was hungry after the season.”

Go Big or Go Home

Australia could have some issues in the front court. If Daniels can play up a few positions on defense and grab rebounds, there is a chance he bullies his way onto the team over smaller guards. Daniels offers a far more polished overall game than the other traditional big-man rotational options like Thon Maker.

Daniels could be the first man off the bench for Giddey, Mills, or Xavier Cooks. He could also be the last man left off the flight. ESPN Australia is still sitting on the fence. It all comes down to his fight on defense and getting that inconsistent shot to fall.

Just like Las Vegas Summer League, though, go big or go home. Stay assertive and aggressive. There is no need for Daniels to be timid. His time will come in the NBA and for his country soon enough.

Want to watch Dyson? Put these dates in your calendar:

Team Australia Group Play Schedule

Aug. 25: Australia vs. Finland (4 a.m. ET)
Aug. 27: Australia vs. Germany (4:30 a.m. ET)
Aug. 29: Australia vs. Japan (7:10 a.m. ET)

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