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2020 NBA Draft Profile: Jaden McDaniels

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Is Jaden McDaniels the perfect prospect to exemplify positionless basketball?

Washington v USC Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The name Jaden McDaniels might look familiar but that’s probably because his brother, Jalen McDaniels, was drafted last year in the 2019 draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Jaden is currently predicted to go 31st via Tankathon after becoming an “X-Factor” for the Washington Huskies. Being a high-risk, potentially high-reward prospect, here’s why Dallas might consider taking him.

The Specs

Height: 6’10”

Weight: 201

Wingspan: 6’11.5”

Key Notes

Offense

  • Played the 3 as a 6”10 SF
  • High release point, decent mid-range game
  • Long strides, moves very well
  • Good at getting out and running
  • Despite thin frame, attacks the rim with aggressiveness
  • Nice floater, good touch on the inside
  • Stretch big potential
  • Needs to improve three-point shot
  • Needs to add weight if he’s going to be playing the 4/5

Defense

  • Good speed for a “big”
  • Athleticism allows him to get blocks and rebounds
  • Length helps him get steals when he jumps in passing lanes
  • Limited strength with his slight frame
  • Very young, lots of time to add weight and grow defensively
  • Has been described as “boom or bust”
  • Lack of maturity
  • Average rebounder

Active Player Comparisons

If everything goes wrong: Perry Jones III

If everything goes right: Jonathan Isaac

Most Realistic Outcome: Rudy Gay Lite + Size

Stats and Accomplishments

Best Games Last Season

vs. Ball State

22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, 8-15 FGA (53%), 4-7 3FGA (57%)

vs. Baylor

18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 5-10 FGA (50%), 7-8 FTA (88%)

vs. Wake Forest

18 points, 15 rebounds, 1 block, 7-13 FGA (54%), 3-4 FTA (75%)

3 Key Things

1. The long game

The most important thing to know about McDaniels is that he would be an investment. He has a lot of raw talentcas a 6”10 small forward. When he enters the league, he will likely spend some time playing the four position, but his game fits the three position better. He might be able to play some iso-ball on opposing big-men and draw them out to the wing, but his game doesn’t really incorporate low-post skills.

He’s a project but, he’s got a lot of room to grow on both sides of the ball. Finding someone who moves like a 6’7” wing who happens to be 6”10 is rare. With Dallas’ ability to develop players, he should be able to add some more weight and improve his shooting numbers with time. A 6”10 wing/forward is not something that every team has, so he would most likely become another tool in Carlisle’s toolbox more so than a guy that gets 10-15 minutes night in and night out. McDaniels is the type of player that caters to the idea of position-less basketball.

2. Shooting

McDaniels shot 34% on 4 three-point attempts per game at Washington, which is encouraging given how raw he still is. The percentage is average, but it shows that he can knock them down given a chance at volume. I’d expected him to average close to two threes per game his rookie season. If he proves that he can hit them at a decent clip in the league, he might solidify a role in Carlisle’s rotation.

3. Skills and size

Any player that is 6”9+ that can move like a guard is automatically compared to Kevin Durant. I wouldn’t compare McDaniels to KD, but his ability and the manner at which he scores at 6”10 can’t be ignored. He’s only going to be 20 years-old come draft night, so he’s got lots of time to develop. He’s not going to be taking a bunch of threes each game once he’s in the NBA, but having range in his skillset will require the defender to honor his three-point shooting ability. With his athleticism and size, he could become quite the asset. If he can improve his shooting percentage from his time at Washington, he could prove to be a sneaky secret weapon in Carlisle’s arsenal.

The Checklist

Role with the Mavericks

McDaniels would be a long-term commitment. I wouldn’t expect his minutes to be super consistent in his first year if he’s selected by Dallas, but he’s got a unique skillset. Carlisle could use him against both bigger and smaller teams. Against bigger teams, he would provide to have more speed than opposing bigs and against smaller teams he would have more size. His skillset mixed with his body type is what makes him different, and I will always believe that Carlisle can find use for a prospect with a unique skillset. I would expect him to average 8-12 minutes his rookie year while showing flashes of potential.

Summary

McDaniels would not be selected to come in and have an instant impact off the bench. While former second-round pick Jalen Brunson came in and immediately started producing, I don’t expect that to be the case for Jaden. While I would prefer Desmond Bane or maybe even Cassius Stanley to be the selection, I could buy into Jaden McDaniels. If he is the selection, I believe it will be because Donnie Nelson and the front office see something in him that other teams might not. He as been described as a boom or bust prospect, so for this team, I think there might still be some safer options out there to better cater our roster’s needs.