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Pelicans Planning Out NBA Summer League Rotations

The New Orleans Pelicans Summer League roster is taking shape. Dyson Daniels, E.J. Liddell, and Karlo Matkovic should be included in most starting lineups.

The 2022 NBA Draft is complete. The New Orleans Pelicans stood pat with their selections and their NBA Las Vegas Summer League roster is taking shape. The five-game tournament will be the first look at Dyson Daniels, E.J. Liddell, and Karlo Matkovic in an NBA setting. All three should be included in most starting lineups.

Extra Reps For Proven Playoff Vets

The rest of the starting lineup should look familiar for the first few games. Jose Alvarado is not the type of person to pass up an opportunity to get better as a player. He’s the kind of professional who knows where he stands and aims to find more time in a Willie Green-led huddle. Expect to see him make a cameo appearance after Puerto Rican National Team duties are finished.

Willie Green

Herb Jones might have proven too valuable to risk during Summer League. However, his ballhandling and shooting need work so it would not be surprising to see him in a couple of games. Trey Murphy III was on the All-Summer League team last year. He also needed a few extra regular-season games in Birmingham to find the confident shot that helped the Pelicans make a playoff run. The coaching staff will keep him close this summer to refine his skill set and better define his role going forward.

Running With The Rookies

Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said Dyson Daniels “did not hide” from the competition during the NBA Draft process. The 8th overall pick actually wanted to come back for a second visit after having dinner with Willie Green. Daniels said playing for a coach who was a player is huge, especially since Green played the same perimeter positions, and this opportunity gives him “a chance to learn to learn a lot.”

Dyson Daniels

Some outlets forecasted E.J. Liddell as a lottery pick just a few weeks ago. He fell to the Pelicans as the 42nd overall pick. The second-rounder has all the tools to become the next Herb Jones. The above-average to near-elite shot blocking, passing, and high-energy style of play will get Liddell in Willie Green’s good graces. This summer is about how much catching up there is to do on the offensive end.

Liddell also has a chance to show the team he is worth a roster spot immediately. Daniels just replaced Tony Snell in the 15th and final spot. New Orleans would have to make an unbalanced trade to make room if they did not want to eat the costs of waiving or stretching Garrett Temple’s contract. The Pelicans could convince Liddell to sign a two-way deal in lieu of a guaranteed deal down the line. Consider it the Naji Marshall-Jose Alvarado path to the rotation.

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Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) shoots over Michigan State Spartans forward Malik Hall (25) during the first half of the NCAA men's basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus on March 3, 2022. Michigan State Spartans At Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) shoots over Michigan State Spartans forward Malik Hall (25) during the first half of the NCAA men's basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus on March 3, 2022. Michigan State Spartans At Ohio State Buckeyes

The plan is for Karlo Matkovic “to spend another year or two in Europe” according to Langdon. Matkovic was a relative unknown in the media room during the draft but he has his supporters around the NBA. The 52nd overall pick is a “high-energy young man. Big-time athlete with his size. We’re hoping that with playing a year or two in Europe (against) some high-level competition, he’ll be ready to be back here and help us,” Langdon added.

Representing Croatia internationally, Matkovic’s scouting report reads, “Plays with a good motor. Runs the floor well for a big. Good leaper off two feet. Light on his feet. Can elevate quickly from the floor. Explosive finisher at the rim and likes to dunk the ball whenever he has the chance.”

Daniels, who Langdon said was “the guy” on draft night, should get plenty of chances to initiate the offense. Alvarado, Jones, and Murphy III are relatively known commodities compared to the other prospects in Las Vegas. The playoff-tested trio should not dominate the ball in all five games this summer.

Daniels told ESPN’s Mike Schmidt, “I think with my jump shot, I've got my mechanics right now, so it's just about speeding it up. So a lot of shots every day with coaches and stuff, just speeding up the shot. And putting on some size, getting in the gym, putting on some size, those are the two main focuses.”

The Australian added, ''I think I can definitely guard 4. Personally, for me, I think I'm a pretty good post defender as well, so I wouldn't say I can go out there and guard Joel Embiid but to hold my spot there, hold it for 4 or 5 seconds until help comes. 1-4 is definitely realistic for me to guard and being my size it only helps to be 6'7 and guard 4 positions.''

Projected Starting Five: Jose Alvarado, Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, Karlo Matkovic with E.J. Liddell acting as a sixth man. Liddell starts the last few games once the playoff veterans work up some new chemistry.

Daniels will face 7th overall pick Shaedon Sharpe to open the summer schedule. The G-League Elite alum then gets tests against A.J. Griffin (16th, Atlanta Hawks), Johnny Davis (10th, Washington), and Max Christie (35th, L.A. Lakers).

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