Easily one of the most polarizing picks in the draft, Jaden McDaniels’s size, frame, and skill set has the imagination running wild with potential. Washington’s star freshman is a 6’9 forward with guard skills that has shown the ability to score on all three levels. Whether it’s scoring on stepback threes, mid-range pull-ups or floaters, the potential is there to be an all around game changer
Draft Projection: Late Lottery
Best Case Scenario: Brandon Ingram/ Jonathan Issac
Worst Case Scenario: Kevin Knox
13.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 40.7 FG%, 32.4 3P%, 74.6 FT%, 0.9 SPG, 1.5 BLK
McDaniels is highly skilled and has all the tools to be a top-10 pick. Despite his slim frame he attacks the basket off the dribble and doesn’t shy away from contact. Has a soft touch around the rim, and uses floaters well. Willingly uses all of his 6 feet 9 inches to finish over defenders. He can be the primary initiator of offense with his natural ball-handling skills and has the ability to create his shot on all three levels.
Good potential as a jump shooter, with no wasted motion with a quick release. McDaniels has a true scorer’s mentality and can get his shot off anytime time he wants. Willing rebounder on both ends of the floor and always competes for position down low.
He’s especially effective as a defender, specifically off the ball. He currently ranks 4th in the Pac-12 in blocks with 27. Washington has been running a lot of zone defense lately, and McDaniels has been a large part of that success. He’s flashed fantastic instincts & anticipation as he rotates well and constantly clogs up passing lanes.
His versatility on both ends of the floor makes him one of the most fascinating players in this year’s draft.
He is so aggressive defensively it often to leads to unnecessary fouls, McDaniels is among the league leaders in fouls per game at 3.4. Falls for pump fakes too often instead of using his length to disrupt the offensive player. He needs to develop short term memory, as it appears he carries over negative impact/results into the next few plays. Against Houston, McDaniels got into early foul trouble and his demeanor sharply changed. He couldn’t move on to the next play which led to a technical foul and inconsistent play on offense.
Although McDaniels can create his own shot, he relies on shooting contested jumpers too often causing him to shoot a low-percent from the field. He has the potential to be a good three-point shooter but will need to pick his spots better. A lot of his poor shot selection can be attributed to his physicality, or lack there-of. He is easily pushed around and has shown little to zero lower body strength. This lack of power and explosion often has him settling for & throwing up bad looks.
When in attack mode, he tends to be a ball-stopper and doesn’t find open teammates. He can be a decent playmaker but puts himself in bad situations when he isolates which leads to live-ball turnovers. He is in the 53rd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. Which explains his 3.4 turnovers per game in comparison to only averaging 2.2 assists.
The keys for players like McDaniels to be successful in the NBA are fit, time, and reasonable expectations. In our mock draft, we have him going 14th to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are going through a rough patch and will have the time, patience, and training staff to develop a talent like McDaniels. For him to see early playing time it will have to be on the defensive end, he has the potential to be a solid defender with his long arms and athletic ability.
As for offense, he has all the tools to be successful but will likely be a project. In the short term, he could be a better offensive Johnathan Issac. He’s a much natural scorer and more polished with the ball in his hands. Long term, if McDaniels becomes more efficient and really works on his game, he could develop into a Brandon Ingram type of player, and a guy we look back on as an absolute steal.
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