Lottery Pick? McDaniels On Outside Looking in With NBA Draft Approaching

Dan Raley

Five weeks to the NBA draft, Jaden McDaniels is being talked about as a late-round steal. 

Which is fine, except the former University of Washington forward has probably dropped 10-12 picks over the course of last season while giving pro scouts a college sample of what he can do.

Once considered a surefire top 10 pick, the mock drafts rate him no higher than No. 16 now -- with NBAdraft.net offering him this generous assessment by projecting that he goes to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

McDaniels might be as physically gifted as anyone looking for a pro basketball home when the NBA draft unfolds on June 25. 

He has that 7-foot wing span, a willowy 6-foot-9 frame and an ever so graceful style that defines his game.  

However, McDaniels comes with red flags in terms of attitude. There's no denying that. 

Words tossed around are immature, aloof, child-like.

It's not that something like this hasn't happened before, with teenagers coming into the league with emotional question marks and teams debating whether they want to spend a lot of time with younger players perceived as emotional risks and wait for them to grow up.

To McDaniels' detriment, the ongoing pandemic has prevented NBA franchises from properly vetting him and meeting with him to the point they feel would feel comfortable making him one of the elite lottery picks. 

Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo has dropped the Federal Way, Washington, native, who played just one season of college basketball, from No. 8 to 18, as shown in his latest mock draft. 

McDaniels' ex-UW teammate, fellow freshman forward Isaiah Stewart, appears even farther back in most mock drafts, but he's a first-rounder no less.

Of course, all of this projection and posturing over these young guys can and will change over the next five and a half weeks.

Others look at McDaniels' lower draft ranking, such as NBC Sports, and see it as a good thing for interested teams, describing him as a potential steal in the back half of the first round.

In the accompanying video, Jamal Williams, McDaniels' AAU coach and a former UW player, projects the teen as a better pro player than collegian, with the NBA a better fit for his game. He's worthy of a high pick.

 Either way, McDaniels will be a pro soon.

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