Southwest Notes: Ryan, Murphy, Wembanyama, Lively, Bane

Matt Ryan, whose two-way contract was claimed off waivers by New Orleans after being released by Minnesota, had a strong debut with the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of (subscriber link).

The 26-year-old forward converted a trio of three-pointers in under three minutes during the second quarter, shifting the momentum of the game. While he only played 14 minutes, Ryan was a game-high plus-20 in the Pelicans’ 111-104 victory over Memphis, Clark notes.

After the game, Ryan reflected on his experience as a DoorDash driver once his college career ended, which coincided with the NBA shutting down the season due to the pandemic in March 2020.

I was kind of getting bored going from home to the gym,” Ryan said. “I wanted to do something that was easy to drop and go play right away. I had a car. Was capable of delivering food. I did that for a little bit. But I stayed in the gym. Stayed focused on my goals. When the opportunity came, I was ready.”

Ryan is now on his fourth team, having made previous stops with the Celtics, Lakers and Wolves. He remains steadfast in his belief that he’s an NBA player, and he should have more opportunities to showcase his long-range shooting with Trey Murphy sidelined, Clark adds.

I truly believed I could play at this level,” Ryan said. “It would have been easy to stop or take a mid-level job in Europe. I wanted to play in the NBA. I always did. I believe that I can. I’m going to continue to try to show it.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Murphy’s return timeline is up in the air due to a torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery, but he already feels like an essential piece for the Pelicans, Clark writes in another subscriber-only story for Murphy, who was the 17th pick of the 2021 draft, is now in his third season. In 2022/23, he averaged 14.5 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 31.0 MPG across 79 appearances (65 starts), posting an impressive shooting line of .484/.406/.905. The Pelicans exercised their ’24/25 team option on Murphy, making him eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer. Clark suggests the 6’9″ sharpshooter could land a nine-figure payday on his next contract.
  • While Spurs No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama had some moments of brilliance against Dallas in his regular season debut, recording 15 points (on 6-of-9 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, he also committed five turnovers was limited to just 23 minutes in the loss due to foul trouble, notes Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
  • In the same story, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon says Mavericks center Dereck Lively II, who was the No. 12 overall pick, was the more impactful big man, notching 16 points (7-of-8 shooting), 10 rebounds, a steal, a block and a game-high plus-20 in 31 minutes off the bench. “He played f—ing amazing,” Mavs superstar Luka Doncic said.
  • Desmond Bane is finding his voice as a leader of the Grizzlies, particularly with Ja Morant suspended and Steven Adams out for the year with a knee injury, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic relays. Not only has the fourth-year guard become more vocal, he leads by example as well — he has an “obsessive work ethic,” according to Iko. “He’s the one on the team who I call ‘Cap’ for captain,” said rookie GG Jackson. “You can tell from his vibe in practice or even around the facility that he’s the lead dog, the most mature professional on the team. I still try to act a little goofy to add positivity, but he always has his head on the straight and narrow. He’s very serious about his craft. When it’s time to get to it he’s locked in.”
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