Home » Aussie ‘prodigy’ Dyson Daniels wows NBA with ‘filthy’ game for rising contenders

Aussie ‘prodigy’ Dyson Daniels wows NBA with ‘filthy’ game for rising contenders

Australia’s Dyson Daniels has returned to form at just the right time and shapes as a key reason why his New Orleans Pelicans will take some beating in the NBA playoffs.

The 21-year-old returned from injury late last month after undergoing mid-season surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee in February.

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He’s played seven games since returning to the Pelicans’ line-up and produced some clutch defensive plays in New Orleans’ 114-109 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday (AEST).

Daniels only had six points, but he stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block. His best offensive possession was a deft reverse layup through contact.

Late in the game, Daniels was defending Steph Curry and he was all over the Warriors star — forcing him to pass only for the Aussie to snag the intercept and set up an easy basket at the other end.

Daniels also helped keep Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson quiet in the dying stages of the game as the Pelicans clinched their fourth win in a row.

New Orleans have a 49-32 record and can guarantee a spot in the playoffs if they beat the LA Lakers in their last game of the regular season on Monday (AEST).

The Pelicans are currently sixth in the congested Western Conference standings and will be desperate to avoid falling into the play-in tournament, where they could face the Lakers, Warriors or Sacramento Kings.

The resurgence of marquee player Zion Williamson in the second half of the season has made the Pelicans a playoff contender as they look to win their first playoff series since the 2017-2018 season.

Daniels’ defensive efforts in particular had NBA pundits singing his praises and wondering if the Pelicans should be considered a legitimate Western Conference contender.

The Athletic’s Will Guillory wrote on X: “Two straight games of elite on-ball defence from Dyson Daniels. He’s such a crucial piece for this team.”

One fan wrote: “Start the all-defence campaign for Dyson Daniels. Staying home on Klay on that last possession was huge. Playing great on-ball D the entire game.”

A Pelicans fan said: “We don’t win that game without Dyson Daniels.

“We can talk Zion, we can talk Trey, but what Dyson Daniels just did in that stretch was flat out filthy.”

Pro Pels Talk posted: “Dyson Daniels has been unbelievable since returning.”

Basketball agent Daniel Moldovan said: “Dyson Daniels will be DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year) one day soon.”

Charles W Chambers said: “Dyson Daniels is a basketball prodigy.”

Locked On Pels host Jake Madison added: “Dyson Daniels in year two is an elite defender already.”

All 30 teams will play on Monday, with several crucial seeding positions still up for grabs.

The Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder are all tied on 56 wins at the top of the Western Conference with one game to play.

Only the Boston Celtics are locked in as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while the LA Clippers will likely play the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference’s 4-5 match-up.

Daniels is one of several Aussies set to feature in the NBA playoffs.

Josh Giddey has rediscovered his best form for the OKC Thunder.

Dante Exum and Josh Green are part of a Dallas Mavericks out that looks increasingly imposing with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in career best form.

Veterans Patty Mills and Joe Ingles will suit up for the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, respectively.