Mar 2, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at J.C. Littlejohn Coliseum. Tigers won 77-73. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Is K.J. McDaniels the explosive defensive wing the Suns are looking for?

Strengths

K.J. McDaniels has all the measurables an NBA team could want at his position. He’s 6’6” and just under 200 pounds with athleticism oozing out of his pores. While his max vertical at the NBA Draft Combine was just 37 inches, his no-step vertical was impressive at 33 inches, good for a four-way tie for fourth overall at the combine. The tape backs up his jumping ability. His “pogo-stick” jumping ability is reminiscent of a vintage Shawn Marion, where his second jump was the best there was, and better than most people’s first jump.

McDaniels’ explosiveness helped him finish as the best player in the draft in transition at 1.49 points per fastbreak possession and as the third best in the half court at 1.36 points per possession around the rim, according to Draft Express.

Defensively, his length and athleticism projects very well. He has excellent lateral quickness and is able to corral penetration. He also has great timing when contesting shots. He’s already capable of changing the game with steals and blocks, and his ability to rebound and then turn himself into the leader of fastbreaks bodes well.

Weaknesses

McDaniels has a nice, clean and fluid shot release even from behind the arc but tends to take difficult and ill-advised attempts.
He seems capable on offense and looks to be able to do anything a pro offense would ask, just not consistently. He’s considered a late bloomer, and his lack of experience sometimes becomes apparent.

McDaniels could be a defensive-minded starter (but importantly NOT an offensive liability), but he will need to add weight to his 200-pound frame to avoid being bullied by bigger small forwards.

He seems to be a slight alteration of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha. McDaniels is bigger, more athletic and more explosive with a higher upside than OKC’s lockdown defender, but Sefolosha is more disciplined with a higher Basketball IQ.

How he would fit with the Suns

 

K.J. McDaniels is a different type of wing from the available options of shooters like Rodney Hood and James Young, who the Phoenix Suns could nab with the 14th or 18th picks. He’s not the floor-spacer or scorer that those two or T.J. Warren would be alongside Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but that doesn’t take him completely out of the picture — though it should be noted the Suns didn’t work him out.

The Clemson forward could be an option with the 27th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, if the Suns don’t trade it as has been reported. In a few years, the former Clemson small forward could be a defensive stopper — P.J. Tucker’s replacement — for a potentially contending Phoenix Suns team. And with that, he could also give the Suns a unique offensive skill in transition.

Tags: 2014 NBA Draft

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