Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans high fives Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans after winning the game against the LA Clippers during the 2022 Play-In Tournament.

In varying roles, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, Dyson Daniels to benefit from FIBA World Cup experience

Brandon Ingram is a primary offensive weapon for New Orleans, a go-to scorer who sometimes needs to erupt for 30-plus points, as the 2020 All-Star forward did in 10 separate Pelicans victories last season. Surrounded by prolific bucket-getters such as Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, however, Ingram’s role for USA Basketball is a bit different, as evidenced by him finishing a pair of weekend exhibition wins over Greece and Germany with the same number of assists (three) as field goals.

Like Ingram, New Orleans teammates Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) and Dyson Daniels (Australia) will have altered responsibilities with their respective national teams during the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which tips off Friday in the Philippines. Valanciunas is Option 1A for Lithuania, asked to dominate games in the paint, as he did in a recent exhibition victory over Puerto Rico (20 points, 11 rebounds). Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Daniels is surrounded by grizzled pros such as guard Patty Mills and wing Joe Ingles, both 35 and having spent a combined 23 seasons in the NBA. Australia’s roster also features Oklahoma City starting guard Josh Giddey, Portland wing defender Matisse Thybulle and Dallas guards Dante Exum and Josh Green. After averaging 17.7 minutes and starting 11 games for New Orleans as a rookie, Daniels will be competing for playing time with the “Boomers.”

“I think it’s going to provide a great opportunity for our guys to compete at the highest level for their respective countries,” Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said recently of the trio’s World Cup participation, “and then bridge it into our season, which starts only three weeks after that competition ends.”

Langdon noted that the USA roster is comprised of players who have not been part of the senior national team previously. It’s also a brand-new mix of teammates for Ingram.

“Brandon is comfortable (in New Orleans) and has been a leader, but now you’ve got to step into a place that’s different,” Langdon said. “He’s playing with guys he hasn’t played with, so you kind of have to be a little uncomfortable and take on a leadership role with people you don’t know. So that will be huge for his growth.

“Obviously Jonas has been a leader on (Lithuania’s) team for years, but he loves to compete for his national team and on this kind of stage again. He’s really looking forward to doing it. Dyson is a young guy on his Australian team. To learn from those veteran (Australian) players that have been in competitions and won medals at different levels of international competitions, he’s going to gain a great deal from that.”

Lithuania and Australia are both in action Friday, with USA Basketball opening Saturday (see schedule below). The gold medal game of the World Cup is set for Sept. 10. Roughly three weeks later, preseason training camp will commence for New Orleans and other NBA teams.

“We’re looking forward to our guys experiencing this and bringing it back to us when (training) camp starts,” Langdon said.

2023 FIBA World Cup schedule
Games involving New Orleans Pelicans players
Group phase (first round)
All times Central

Friday, Aug. 25
Australia vs. Finland, 3 a.m.
Lithuania vs. Egypt, 7:30 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 26
USA vs. New Zealand, 7:40 a.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday, Aug. 27
Australia vs. Germany, 3:30 a.m.
Lithuania vs. Mexico, 7:30 a.m.

Monday, Aug. 28
USA vs. Greece, 7:40 a.m. (ESPN2)

Tuesday, Aug. 29
Australia vs. Japan, 6:10 a.m.
Lithuania vs. Montenegro, 7:30 a.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 30
USA vs. Jordan, 3:40 a.m. (ESPN2)