Written by Oleh Kosel, TheBirdWrites.com/HITP Sports
The 6’7″ forward will occupy the Pelicans’ third two-way slot, joining Dereon Seabron and Kaiser Gates. The Pelicans are poised to begin the 2023-24 season with 14 players on the roster as well, leaving one spot vacant.
While Ryan is 26 years of age and onto his fifth NBA franchise, he shouldn’t be considered your typical journeyman. Though most Pelicans fans distinctly remember his back-breaking 3-pointerto propel the Lakers into overtime and eventual victory early last season, his story is one of great perseverance, with a lethal shooting stroke that’s been on display at every step since leaving the collegiate scene.
Ryan had the wretched timing of trying to enter the Association during the pandemic. He was not considered a top prospect likely to get selected somewhere in the NBA draft — he needed to showcase his talents. Unfortunately, there were no predraft group workouts, invitational tournaments or summer league. Trying to spend his first professional year overseas was also fraught with major complications.
Ryan attempted to stir up interest by posting in-depth shooting workouts and accompanying statistics on Twitter just days before the 2020 Draft.
The self-promotion didn’t alter his fortunes, so Ryan faced an incredibly difficult decision: continue working hard on his craft while supporting himself via menial jobs in hopes of getting his foot in the NBA door or pursue a more lucrative career utilizing an economics degree from Vanderbilt.
Thus, he found work in a New York cemetery.
He just didn’t want to give up on his dream of a professional basketball career. Still, he needed money. Dietrich allowed Ryan the flexibility to take time off when a basketball opportunity came along. Some nights, after leaving the cemetery, Ryan would drive DoorDash and UberEats for a bit of extra cash. He also coached a grassroots basketball team.
“I was fresh out of college,” Ryan said. “I had nothing.”
Following a fifth-year senior season at Chattanooga where he averaged 15.4 points and shot 35.9% from 3-point range, Ryan’s first opportunity to impress scouts came more than 17 months later. He shined considering the long layoff from competitive basketball, averaging 11.3 points and shooting 48.1% from 3 for the Cleveland Cavaliers 2021 summer league team.
That showing paved the way to a multitude of important stints.
|Team||MIN||Points||FGA (FG%)||3PA (3FG%)||REB||AST||TOV|
|2021-22 Grand Rapids Gold||32.6||18.6||14.4 (42.6%)||9.8 (38.5%)||3.7||2.5||1.3|
|2022 USA World Cup qualifying team||18.2||13.5||9.0 (50.0%)||9.0 (50.0%)||3.0||0||0|
|2021-22 Maine Celtics||34.6||20.4||14.5 (51.7%)||9.1 (44.9%)||3.1||1.8||1.0|
|2022 Celtics Summer League||22.9||19.0||10.0 (55.0%)||9.5 (52.6%)||1.5||0.5||0|
|2023-24 Lakers||10.8||4.0||4.1 (30.6%)||2.9 (37.1%)||1.2||0.3||0.3|
|2023-24 Timberwolves||8.2||3.4||2.7 (42.4%)||2.2 (38.8%)||0.6||0.6||0.2|
|2023-24 Iowa Energy||36.2||19.0||17.0 (35.3%)||10.1 (35.2%)||3.9||4.3||2.7|
Matt Ryan has proven a consistent ability to knock down the perimeter jumper. The Pelicans are very light on players who exhibit that skill, especially with Trey Murphy still in the midst of recovering from meniscus surgery, and the front office knows it.
Shortly after Murphy’s injury was revealed, the Pelicans worked out multiple players. Will Barton’s name was bandied about the most, but did you know that Ryan also came into town before signing a two-way contract with the Timberwolves in September?