With their first pick in the second round (37th overall), the Raptors have chosen 22-year-old DeAndre Daniels, from UConn.
NCAA fans should be a bit more familiar with Daniels than 1st round pick Bruno Caboclo – let’s be honest, we’re more familiar with anyone than Bruno Caboclo – he was Shabazz Napier’s running mate during UConn’s improbable 2014 title run, and an interesting prospect, though a bit of a reach at 37 (though again, Caboclo. It’s all relative).
Daniels is a lanky forward – ESPN has him at 6 foot 9, 196, with a 7 foot 2 wingspan – who runs the floor very well for a big guy. It was fun watching him finish off Napier drives this season. He’s more than just a finisher at the basket, though; his bread and butter is the pick-and-pop, and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up position wise at the next level. His game is perhaps more suited for a shooting power forward, though he’s extremely lanky and a bit short to play that position in the NBA.
Here’s Ford’s instant analysis (ESPN Insider):
Daniels really helped his stock in the tournament. He has great size and can shoot it, but he’s not a great athlete. He was very inconsistent at UConn.
He’ll likely settle in at small forward, where he’ll be a knock-down shooter right off the bat. He’s got the size to develop into a solid defensive player, but has plenty of work to do at that end. His last month at UConn is likely what got him drafted at all, and certainly what vaulted him this far up the board, as he caught fire in the NCAA tournament and was unquestionably UConn’s second most valuable player on the way to their title run.
The Raps could certainly use a big small forward, but a player with glaring weaknesses – his assist rate (one every 65 minutes) is one of the lowest in NCAA history – and work to do on defence at the age of 22 is a bit of a question mark. That said, the Raptors did have Daniels in for a workout before the draft, and it’s possible he’s made great strides to address those areas since the end of the season.
Ford had him listed as the 59th best prospect in the draft, 15th best small forward. Draftexpress had him going 50th in their mock. This is, on paper, another reach for the Raptors in what is turning into a puzzling draft on paper. NBA Draft has Quincy Miller as his NBA comp. Again, you have to give Masai the benefit of the doubt, given his track record, but it’s still pretty confusing and, I’m sure, far less exciting than many Raptors fans had been hoping for.
Don’t forget that historically, the second round is essentially a crapshoot, though.
Here’s a scouting vid of Daniels, via DraftExpress: