Dyson Daniels has always been a prodigious talent, but traveling to the United States to play in a league full of NBA talent as a teenager is a daunting task for anyone.
The Bendigo product joined an exclusive club of Australians by being selected at the top of the NBA Draft on Friday, chosen at No. 8 by the New Orleans Pelicans.
But it was a tough road to the top, as his G League coach Jason Hart revealed.
Daniels went to the United States to get the real experience of playing against standard NBA baseball players and signed up for the Ignite, a team of up-and-coming young players who give up their amateur status and the opportunity to play college ball with the aim of being fast-followed in the world’s greatest competition.
Daniels shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected number eight overall by the New Orleans Pelicans
But despite his best efforts and training, Daniels couldn’t start. He hit rock bottom in a loss to the Iowa Wolves where the guard could only pick up three points, two assists and a lone rebound to go along with his three turnovers.
Hart knew he was frustrated but persisted with the Aussie talent knowing his response would be the making of him.
“I’m not going to take you out every time you make a mistake…the Ignite program is specifically for these young guys, so we had to put him through the hurdle of being confident in his abilities,” he said. he declares.
The turning point came against Salt Lake City when Daniels hit the game-winning three-pointer and then screamed his emotion to the crowd.
“He screams, he screams. That’s what I was trying to bring out of Dyson – that day-to-day aggression, that style of face-to-face play. It’s what you need to survive in the NBA,” Hart said.
“If you don’t play with that chip on your shoulder or that confidence, you’re not going to make it in the NBA. So I thought all of his body language after taking that picture was indicative of where he started, where he was going, and where he was done now.
Daniels scored the winning hat-trick against Salt Lake City twice in the 2021 G League season
Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon says while there’s a lot of talent on offer in lottery picks, Daniels has always been their No. 1 priority.
“There were a few guys…we liked to go earlier, a few guys we liked went after, but Dyson was the guy,” he said.
‘It was a little nervous in the room during [selection] seven, because we know Portland loved him too. So there was a chance that they took him at age seven.
‘When they took Shaedon [Sharpe] the room exploded.
“He was our guy from the start, I thought he would be fine and we think over time he could be a good choice here alongside the players we have.
“Obviously he’s very young but he’s going to grow and he’s going to be a great player in this league.”
Daniels made his international debut for Australia’s Boomers when he was just 17
Daniels himself has vowed to play “the Australian way” in the NBA.
“It’s all about toughness, bringing the heart and the hustle, playing hard on defense, you know, being physical,” he explained.
“For me, it starts defensively. So being able to get people out of what they want to do by being physical.
“Then on the attacking side, creating for me and my teammates.
‘On the offensive side, I would say someone like [Indiana Pacers guard] Tyrese Haliburton or [Chicago Bulls guard] Lonzo Ball, I think those are good comparisons,” he said.
“They are good playmakers, good finishers.
‘Then defensively I like to watch [Philadelphia guard] Mikal bridges and [Chicago Bulls guard] Alex Caruso.’
Family means everything to Daniels and they were present at the Barclays Center in New York for the announcement
Ben McCauley of the Bendigo Basketball Association played a key role in Daniels’ journey to the top, having first coached him with the Braves’ under-12 program.
“Dyson is a cute kid who comes from a big family and he deserves everything that’s happening to him,” McCauley said.
“He has worked hard from day one and there is no doubt that the Pelicans can now add around 100,000 Bendigo supporters to their fan-base.”
“There’s definitely a trip on the cards to watch it in person.”
Daniels was a talented youngster playing for the Bendigo Braves in the Victorian competition
Ben Harvey, Bendigo Stadium’s general manager, has also been there every step of the way, including playing alongside Daniels’ father, Ricky, with the Braves.
“Honestly, it’s surreal,” Harvey said.
“I couldn’t be happier for Dyson and the Daniels family…to know that a kid from Bendigo has used our path to reach the highest level of basketball is such an achievement.”