Jaden McDaniels, a supremely gifted big man but an underachiever at the University of Washington, will try to find his basketball sweet spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who traded for him after he was drafted with the 28th pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA draft.
McDaniels, a willowy 6-foot-10 player and worth the gamble, went 12 picks after teammate Isaiah Stewart, who was taken with a pick that was traded to Detroit. He wore a tuxedo and was surrounded by family members when his name was called.
However, McDaniels owns family NBA draft bragging rights. He was selected 24 picks higher than his older brother, Jalen, who went to the Charlotte Hornets in the second round a year ago.
Minnesota has been a landing spot for a lot of Northwest players, including Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Martell Webster, Zach LaVine, Richie Frahm, Rony Turiaf, Aaron Brooks, Jamal Crawford and most recently Jaylen Nowell.
McDaniels was one of 10 Pac-12 players drafted: 6) Onyeka Okongwu, USC, Hawks; 16) Stewart; 18) Josh Green, Arizona, Mavericks; 22) Zeke Nnaji, Arizona, Nuggets; 26) Payton Pritchard, Oregon, Celtics; 28) McDaniels; 31) Terrell Terry, Stanford, Mavericks; 36) Tyler Bey, Colorado, 76ers; 46) C.J. Elleby, Washington State, Trail Blazers; 48) Nico Mannion, Arizona; Warriors.
The younger McDaniels emerged from Federal Way High School in suburban Federal Way, Washington, to play for the hometown Huskies rather than head for the bright lights of Kentucky.
Yet McDaniels won't look back fondly at his time with the Huskies. He underperformed at times for Mike Hopkins' team, got whistled for a half-dozen technical fouls in a continuous show of immaturity, suffered an ankle injury and lost his starting job over the latter half of the season.
NBA teams are fully cognizant of his college shortcomings, but saw enough upside to a big man with guard skills to consider him a desirable draft pick.
As ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said, "He just got his braces off last year."
Starting 21 of 31 games at Washington, McDaniels averaged 13 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for a 15-17 team that finished last in the Pac-12. When the Huskies lost point guard Quade Green at midseason to academics, it was hoped that this freshman playmaker would pick up some of the slack, but instead he struggled when asked to fill a bigger role.
His brother Jalen, who played at San Diego State, is a 6-10 forward who went to the Hornets with the 52nd overall pick but spent just 16 games in the NBA as a rookie, playing most of the year in the G-League with its Greensboro team.
No doubt the McDaniels siblings will huddle and discuss the ins and outs of pro basketball.
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