(Note: I missed this past Tuesday, but the goal is to post a new prospect every Tuesday and Thursday until the week of the draft and then I will do a rundown of the entire draft and which player I think the Raptors might pick and which ones they should focus on.)
K.J. McDaniels was a little known guard coming out of high school, and didn’t make much of an impact in his freshman season at Clemson, but since then, he’s made great strides both physically and skill-wise.
His two main attributes are his athleticism and defensive abilities. He’s got great athleticism, although he’s just a notch below otherworldly Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon. And McDaniels was good enough defensively to win the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, this year, blocking an astounding 2.8 shots per game while standing only 6’6 and being a disruptive force in the passing lanes, as well, racking up 1.1 steals a game.
He also is one of the best rebounders for a player his size, grabbing 7.1 rebounds a game, using both his athleticism and a nose for the ball. And unlike a lot of athletic wing player, McDaniels is a good rebounder on both ends of the court.
That’s not to say he’s without weaknesses.
While he’s got excellent defensive potential, he loses focus on the defensive end too much and with his athleticism and long arms, you’d think he’d rack up more than 1.1 steals a game.
And while he’s not a horrible shooter, he’s got a lot of work to do if he is going to be any outside threat in the NBA. His release is slow and mechanical, and he brings the ball down too far during his “windup”, which will allow a lot of NBA defenders to swipe the ball before he even gets a shot off.
Still, it’s not unfixable, and he’s shown an ability to hit from deep when he has his feet set. While he shares a lot in common with the Spurs’ Danny Green, it’s doubtful he’ll ever be the shooter Green is.
One of the only red flags is he doesn’t have a high basketball IQ. He’s not a good passer and doesn’t always seem to tell the difference between a good play and a bad play.
McDaniels has the potential to be an excellent role player in the NBA, if he can improve his outside shot. He does a lot of the little things and gruntwork that role players need to do and could very well end up having a long successful career in the NBA.
What you’re not going to get from McDaniels is a player with a whole lot of potential, despite his athleticism. He simply doesn’t have the offensive skills to be anything more than a good role player, but that’s not bad at all.
Unless he jumps up in the draft, he’s very likely to be available at 20 for the Raptors. He’s a defensive small forward, which is something the Raptors need, and can help out on the boards, as well.
The problem, of course, comes in adding another low IQ player to a roster without a lot of high IQ players. Plus, if he can’t become a legitimate outside threat, he won’t be much more useful than a somewhat broken Landry Fields.