Aussie ace Dyson Daniels joins NBA after draft shock

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·Sports Reporter
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Dyson Daniels was selected eighth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Dyson Daniels was selected eighth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Teenage star Dyson Daniels has become the latest Australian to join the NBA, after the guard was selected eighth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Daniels is the second Australian player to be selected in the top 10 in two years, after the Oklahoma City Thunder picked Josh Giddey sixth in 2021.

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The Bendigo native has taken a slightly unconventional route to the league, spending last season in the NBA G-League with the Ignite, a team founded in order to give players an alternative to college basketball.

Daniels averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals in 32 minutes during his 15-game season with the Ignite.

After some struggles early in the season, Daniels impressed with his ability to read the floor and find open teammates, as well as his competitiveness on defence.

"Dyson is the type of player that can fit into a lot of different NBA systems," one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports.

"He has great size, can come in as a secondary ball-handler and also possibly be an option on the wing with his versatility on and off the ball.

"He's a player that's just going to continue to improve and have a long NBA career."

Daniels joins a New Orleans team that will have some expectations of a playoff run, with 2019 No.1 overall pick Zion Williamson set to return to the court after missing the entirety of last season.

"I looked up to a lot of guys like Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova, those type of guys that I'm really close with," Daniels told Yahoo Sports.

"For me, my favorite player in the NBA is Russell Westbrook with just the mentality he brings and the way he goes about his game."

Dyson Daniels becomes latest Aussie NBA hope after draft shock

His selection follows Australian Josh Giddey's pick at No.6 last year and Josh Green (No.18) in 2020, underlining the emerging talent at the Boomers' disposal ahead of next year's World Cup, the Paris 2024 Olympics and beyond.

The Pelicans made an unlikely run to the eighth seed last season, defeating both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in game, before pushing the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round.

New Orleans made a good trade for Portland's CJ McCollum prior to the trade deadline last season, with the star shooting guard adding another dimension to the Pelicans' offence.

"That's huge, they made a really big step last year making the playoffs and did well," he said of the Pelicans' standing.

"Joining this team, I can help them do better in the playoffs. I'm a winner, I hate losing so I'll do whatever they need and I can definitely step into some roles and contribute straight away.

"I am just so happy ... to be a Pelican, there's no better place. I can't wait to get to work. This is crazy."

Dyson Daniels impressed for the G-League Ignite last season, elevating him to the eighth overall pick of the NBA draft. (Photo by KeShawn Ennis/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dyson Daniels impressed for the G-League Ignite last season, elevating him to the eighth overall pick of the NBA draft. (Photo by KeShawn Ennis/NBAE via Getty Images)

The first pick in Thursday's draft brought the first mild surprise, when the Orlando Magic chose Duke forward Paolo Banchero with the No.1 selection, following weeks of speculation that Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr or Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren might be the ones atop Orlando's list.

Smith went to the Houston Rockets with pick No.3 while Holmgren (No.2) will join Giddey at Oklahoma City, who also landed an NBL graduate at pick No.11.

French NBL Next Stars product Ousmane Dieng, the New Zealand Breakers import, was taken by the New York Knicks and then immediately traded for future first-round picks.

With AAP

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