Dream situation for Aussie guard after being drafted by New Orleans

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Australian rising star Dyson Daniels is walking into an ideal situation for the playmaking guard after being taken by New Orleans Pelicans with the No.8 pick in the NBA Draft.

Daniels looked confident turning up in a flashy silver suit for the ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the 19-year-old was ecstatic after his name was called out by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

New Orleans is a great fit for Daniels as he could become their point guard alongside veteran CJ McCollum in the backcourt, feeding All-Star forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

With rookie duo Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado putting in eye-catching efforts at the defensive end, Daniels will help give the Pelicans one of the best young perimeter defences.

The talented 203cm guard rose up the pre-draft rankings on the back of his season with the G-League Ignite development team Ignite after graduating from Canberra’s NBA Academy.

Known for his playmaking skills and defence, Daniels will need to improve his shooting when he steps onto an NBA floor. 

In 14 games for the Ignite in the G League, he averaged 11.3 points, 6.2 rebonds and 4.4 assists, shoting at 45% from the field but just 25.5% from three-point range.

His shortcomings as a shooter will not be highlighted at the Pelicans. They have three elite scorers in Williamson, Ingram and McCollum as well as a centre who is also an offensive threat in Jonas Valunciunas.

After storming into the playoffs via the play-in tournament, New Orleans gave Western Conference top seeds Phoenix a tough contest before going down in six games.

With rookie coach Willie Green viewed as one of the best young mentors in the NBA, the team is on the rise and Daniels is in the unusual situation of joining a franchise which is likely to be in the post-season instead of most Draft lottery teams who are in a rebuilding phase.

He was invited to attend the Draft ceremony in New York along with the top prospects for the first round, sharing the moment with his father, Ricky, and mother, Brikitta.

Daniels held workouts with seven franchises leading into the Draft and there was some speculation he could be taken as high as fifth.

Duke forward Paolo Banchero was a surprising selection as the No.1 pick by Orlando with Gonzga centre Chet Holmgren taken second by Oklahoma City where he will pair nicely with Boomers guard Josh Giddey, the No.6 pick in last year’s Draft who exceeded expectations in a superb rookie year for the Thunder.

Another big man, Auburn alum Jabari Smith jnr, went third to Houston, and Iowa forward Keegan Murray was taken by Sacramento with the No.4 pick before the first guard was selected by Detroit with the fifth pick, Purdue’s Jaden Ivey.

Indiana went with Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin at No.6 and another Canadian was chosen next with Portland adding guard Shaedon Sharpe with the seventh pick.

“There are so many roles I can play in a team,” Daniels told reporters on Wednesday. “My best NBA-ready skill is my defence and being able to step on the floor and guard the best player, use my size, my lateral quickness to be able to cause trouble for players. 

“I can definitely step on the floor and impact straight away. I’m sure it’s going to be a big step up.

“The pace is going to be up and down, big crowds, I’m just looking forward to everything about the NBA game. It was my dream to play in the NBA.”

New Zealand Breakers duo Ousmane Dieng and Hugo Besson, who both hail from France, and Adelaide’s Filipino import Kai Sotto, who all played in the NBL as part of the Next Star program, have also nominated for the Draft, along with Perth Wildcats forward Luke Travers.

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