With the 26th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select 6'10 forward from Washington, Jaden McDaniels. I can sense your excitement through the screen of your iPhone.
If you're wondering who Jaden McDaniels is, you're not alone. Not that draft picks aren't critical, but, with college basketball becoming less watchable by the year, and more picks coming from overseas, the G-League or in Darius Bazley's case, opting to take a million-dollar internship, you rely on us to fill in the cracks.
So here's the 411 on McDaniels; the stats say he averages 13 points per game, plays 31 minutes, shoots over 40 percent from the field, and 34 percent from beyond the arc.
Mike Schmitz of ESPN says:
Strengths- An interesting blend of size, length, and agility at 6-foot-10 with an 8-11 standing reach. Can play above the rim in space with relative ease.- Holds considerable defensive upside, given his agility and size. Has shown the ability to sit down and slide with wings. Finished the year, averaging 1.0 steals and 1.6 blocks per 40 minutes. Improved motor.- Versatile offensive attack with his ability to make a standstill 3, handle in the open floor, and create for others on occasion. Although he made only 34% of his 3s at Washington, he has sound touch and solid mechanics. Can rise into 3s and mid-range pull-ups. Good footwork overall. Has touch on floaters. Changes speeds and directions with the ball. Shows glimpses of feel as a playmaker.
Considering Oklahoma City's starting lineup is in flux, there could be an open spot at small forward. McDaniels could come in and play the three if Sam Presti isn't comfortable with the idea of Abdel Nader starting.
McDaniel's size and versatility could also allow him to play the four when Bazley is off the court. Watching his scouting video, (which we have posted here) he does an excellent job of creating space to shoot and creating his own shot; he's also not afraid to go to the rim, but he hasn't seen the physicality that he will face in the NBA, and that can scare some young players.
On the downside, Schmitz says:
- Body hasn't improved much. Narrow shoulders, rail-thin legs. How much weight can he put onto his frame? Struggles to play through contact. Can he defend more physical forwards?- Tends to fade in and out of games. Led the Pac-12 in turnovers and fouls. Erratic with his decision making.- What gets him on an NBA floor early in his career? Not the most consistent shooter. He has his wow moments but still finding his elite skill. Scouts see him as more of a long-term prospect.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.