As with most late first round picks, teams look at players that could be boom or bust. That’s what the Utah Jazz would be doing if they pick Jaden McDaniels out of Washington.
McDaniels was a 5-star McDonald’s All Amerian that picked Washington over Kentucky that ended up underwhelming. That he will likely be available for the Jazz’s to pick at #23 shows you just how much he didn’t live up to expectations.
If you’re Utah and picking at 23, this might be the perfect type of pick. You’re not likely to get a star at this point in the draft, so why not swing for the fences on a prospect with big upside?
13 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 AST
40.5% FG 33.9 3PT%
6’9” 200 LBS 7’ wingspan
A lot of McDaniels strengths come from his measurables and flashes of potential. He has a body type similar to Brandon Ingram on the Pelicans, and that would probably be his best case scenario if he hits his ceiling. For his height and length he has a nice handle. He’s also shown a promising shooting ability but it wasn’t enough to impact games enough at Washington.
McDaniels has also shown great defensive flashes. He’s a natural shot blocker and could potentially become a plus defender with his combination of length and size.
According to Tony Jones of the Athletic the Jazz have spoken with McDaniels already. Those interviews will be vital for a prospect like McDaniels. Does he have the mentality to be come a rotation player?
Utah will also have the opportunity to meet with McDaniels. According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, teams will have additional opportunities to meet with prospects and have workouts.
The NBA is allowing teams to begin conducting in-person meetings (medical evaluation, workout) with 2020 Draft prospects from Oct. 16-Nov. 16, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Teams receiving up to two visits per player; no more than 10 total among prospects.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 12, 2020
Utah has had important player meetings in the past where they’ve found players that were much better than their draft position (Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are the best examples). Will the Jazz bring in McDaniels for workouts? It may be key to finding out if he’s a project worth drafting.
As has been mentioned, McDaniels strength is in his potential. In what he’s actually shown on the court in college, it’s been pretty underwhelming for a 5-star prospect.
McDaniels was actually benched at one point for a better shooter because of his poor decision making. Even in his highlight videos, that show his best plays, you see him doing a lot of low percentage shots. A lot of his game includes barreling into a group of defenders at the rim and trying to use his height to shoot over smaller college defenders. It doesn’t lend to the idea that he has a lot of feel for the game. It also gives you pause on whether he can succeed against NBA defenders.
He’s also very lean. Is his body type the kind that can add muscle? Does he have the physical demeanor to overcome his lack of physical prowess?
For context on his size, McDaniels is 6’9” and 200 pounds. Donovan Mitchell, who doesn’t receive enough recognition for his size, came into the draft at 6’1” and about 220 pounds. McDaniels has to show a work ethic and a drive that can overcome that.
Does he have that work ethic?
Never say never, but McDaniels would probably not contribute to the Jazz right away. But Utah has invested in the Salt Lake City Stars for developing players just like McDaniels. McDaniels would likely spend a lot of time developing with the Stars to gain better feel for the game and develop.
McDaniels potential does make it hard to pass on him. That length and potential is legit and if he figures things out, he has a potential to fit into a lot of positions for the Jazz.
And that’s the best part of picking at 23. It’s less devastating if you miss on the pick so why not swing for the fences?