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What to watch for with 2022 Summer League Pelicans

Dyson Daniels and E.J. Liddell are worth a close follow, but so are several other players

New Orleans Pelicans Introduce Draft Picks Press Conference

The New Orleans Pelicans will kick off their 2022 summer league schedule tomorrow, facing the Portland Trail Blazers at 9:00 p.m. Central time. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 from Las Vegas.

The expectation is that Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy will appear in only a few of the five contests on the docket, giving way to the rest of the roster as the exhibition progresses.

Look for Dyson Daniels and E.J. Liddell to soak up a lot of minutes alongside the three young veterans, in particular.

“Yes, obviously, to get some familiarity going, get some comfort playing with each other,” Jarron Collins said Tuesday. “You do want to try and establish that early. They’ve done that in practice and will continue to do that in summer league.”

According to the summer league head coach, Daniels picked things up quickly and performed really well in practices since the Pelicans made him the 8th overall selection in the 2022 NBA draft.

“After a week of practices, two-a-days, it’s time to see him against other competition right now because he’s looking real good against our guys,” Collins said

Collins has lauded Daniels’ high IQ and versatility multiple times this summer. Daniels, who stands 6’8 and possesses a 6’11 wingspan, can and likely will see time at every position in Las Vegas, including some action as a small-ball 5.

Liddell is another player that fans should be extremely interested in monitoring. In addition to his accomplishments at Ohio State, he stated earlier this week that he exemplifies the Pelicans’ style of play under Willie Green.

“All of these guys play with a chip on their shoulder, as well as me, so I feel like I fit in great with the mentality of this team,” Liddell said.

As for what he’ll provide on the court, Collins gave a detailed scouting report.

“He’s very physical, plays with a high motor, and is someone who can finish at all three levels. Pull-up jumpers, knock down 3s, and can play out of the post. He does a really good job of making rotations defensively. He’s providing energy and hustle out there and that usually translates into being in the right spots.”

Other players to keep an eye on are 6’11 Karlo Matkovic, a draft-and-stash who will play in Europe next season, Dereon Seabron, already signed to a two-way contract with the Pelicans, and John Butler, a 7’1 forward who knocked down 39.3% of his 3-point attempts in his lone year at Florida State.

Matkovic told media that he’s a high motor guy who knows his role, sticking to pick-and-rolls on offense while doing his best to defend the paint on the other end.

Seabron, whose pre-draft performance apparently impressed the Pelicans, is an incredible athlete with good size (6’6 height, 6’9 wingspan) and fantastic quickness.

Butler has a very unique skill set. As mentioned he stands as tall as a center but can space the floor. According to Collins, Butler made a good amount of corner 3s in practice and he looked good in catch-and-shoot situations.

The previous summer league team posted a perfect 5-0 record, but the biggest takeaway was the passion that the Pelicans exhibited throughout their play in Las Vegas. Looking back in hindsight, that was appropriate as Herb Jones, Kira Lewis, Alvarado, Marshall and Murphy displayed so much heart in their minutes during the last regular season and playoff run. Per Jarron Collins, we should expect to see similar fight from this year’s group.

“I would say that all of our guys, quite frankly, have played really well, played hard. What I’m most impressed with, is how much fight, spirit and competitiveness that all of our guys, top to bottom, have brought to each practice. That’s only going to make them better and us better as a whole.”

If we do witness a similar effort from this Pelicans summer league team to their previous counterparts, it could bode well once the games do count for a second year in a row. Sign me up.

Day Date Opponent Time (Central) TV Arena
Game #1 Saturday 7/9/2022 Portland Trail Blazers 9:00 p.m. ESPN2 Thomas & Mack Center
Game #2 Monday 7/11/2022 Atlanta Hawks 5:00 p.m. NBAtv Cox Pavilion
Game #3 Wednesday 7/13/2022 Washington Wizards 5:00 p.m. NBAtv Thomas & Mack Center
Game #4 Friday 7/15/2022 Los Angeles Lakers 10:00 p.m. ESPN2 Thomas & Mack Center
Game #5 Saturday/Sunday 7/16 or 7/17 TBD TBD TBD TBD

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.