Pelicans Get Strong Summer Debuts From Daniels, Hawkins, and Liddell; Fall to Timberwolves 102-88

The New Orleans Pelicans’ entry in the NBA2K24 Summer League was unable to overcome 31 turnovers in falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-88 in the opener for both teams.

Dyson Daniels scored a team-high 18 points, leading four Pelicans in double figures, while adding five rebounds, four steals, three assists, and a block. Daniels came out aggressively, displaying his defensive prowess on the games first possession.

Perhaps no player on the summer league roster has more to gain over the next five games than the second year guard. As a rookie Daniels scored in double figures only five times, posting a career-high of 14. Over his final 20 appearances he averaged fewer than three field goal attempts per game.

Getting him to assert himself offensively is a clear priority of the coaching staff.

Rookie Jordan Hawkins finished with 16 points on 15 field goal attempts. It wasn’t the most efficient debut, Hawkins also missed five of his six free throws, but the shooting ability that made him so coveted was evident.

Hawkins was confident putting the basketball on the deck and driving to the rim, generating a pair of acrobatic finishes. Similar to Trey Murphy III, who entered the league with the reputation for being a “shooter,” Hawkins looked to show those in attendance that he is a complete scorer.

He shared the ball as well, handing out a team-high five assists. He also collected a two steals and two rebounds.

One year after tearing his ACL, EJ Liddell made his return to the court. Having secured a guaranteed contract with the big club, Liddell doesn’t have the pressure to put up big numbers. These games are more about him rediscovering his feel for the game than anything else.

The physical rust was evident for Liddell, but mentally he was sharp. He finished the game with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and generally made the right plays when he was on the court.

Rookie free agent Landers Nolley II was a pleasant surprise, making all four of his field goal attempts for 10 points in 19 minutes. Nolley let the game come to him and never seemed rushed on any of his shots. He also played solid defense and hit the boards. After one game he appears to be a leading candidate for one of the Pelicans’ two remaining two-way contracts.

While getting too enthusiastic over anything that happens during summer league play is unwise, there is plenty to pay attention to during these games.

New Orleans returns to action on Sunday night, when they face the Golden State Warriors at 9:00 PM on ESPN 2.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, and Google Podcasts or on YouTube. You can follow this author on Twitter at @DMGrubb.


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