Takeaway #2: Matt Ryan helps this basketball team.
We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so! On Sunday, we published a post shortly after the news that Matt Ryan was signing a two-way deal with the Pelicans that referred to him as a potential game-changer. And while it is still too soon to know for certain, the undrafted third-year forward sure looked the part against the Grizzlies.
When Ryan checked in to start the second quarter, the Pelicans trailed the Grizzlies 28-25. By the time he checked out with 4:36 left in the half, New Orleans had turned the tables and was leading 49-37. Overall, Ryan had a game-high +/- of +20 in his 14 minutes of action.
As a team that finished 29th in 3-point attempts last season (30.1 attempts per game) and was without (arguably) their best shooter in Trey Murphy III, the Pelicans desperately needed the jolt of shooting/spacing (he went 3-for-6 from downtown) that Ryan provided them with.
But it wasn’t just his shooting that stood out. He also held up relatively well on defense (being 6’7 goes a long way on that end of the court). And he also flashed some passing chops. Ryan recorded one assist in the game, but the highlight of his night was this pretty layup pass that led to free throws:
Coming off a dribble handoff action, Ryan spots the empty space, eats it up, forces Jaren Jackson Jr. to step up to defend his drive, and hits teammate Jonas Valanciunas under the rim.