Portland Trail Blazers: NBA Draft prospect of the week, Jaden McDaniels

The Portland Trail Blazers are likely to be picking between 10 and 14 in the NBA Draft. Wing Jaden McDaniels could be just the man for this team.

The Portland Trail Blazers are likely going to be drafting between the 10 and 14 range in the 2020 NBA Draft. Though they could rise higher with the new draft lottery odds, this is where they are most likely to sit with the way they have played over the last month.

Obviously the rest of the NBA season and the draft are under a bit of a cloud with the coronavirus. But, the draft will still go ahead, we just don’t know when, or if it will be a closed event.

With the NCAA season over though, players are now able to hire agents. The pre-draft process has begun. In terms of prospects, we have covered a few guys mocked between 8 and 20 so far. The next one we will be looking at, is Jaden McDaniels.

McDaniels is a six-foot-nine wing out of Washington. He is 200 pounds and has a seven-foot wingspan. He is a one-and-done prospect who was ranked seventh in his recruiting class last year. His brother Jalen McDaniels is a rookie in the NBA this year, and his cousin is longtime ex-NBA player Juwan Howard.

McDaniels is an interesting prospect who hasn’t shown the offensive efficiency yet of some of his lottery-bound peers. McDaniels biggest calling card is probably his potential, it’s not that he isn’t good now, it’s just that his jumper and offensive game is continuing to bloom and we see a potential stretch-four with athleticism in the future.

When watching McDaniels the first thing you notice is his long slender frame, he hasn’t filled out yet but has the long levers that we described above. He isn’t Brandon Ingram skinny, but he is still very skinny so NBA conditioning will be huge for him. Offensively, even though his he is only shooting 32.9 percent from three, he has already flashed some off the dribble game. Because of his big frame he actually looks a little like Ingram when creating shots off the dribble.

His efficiency is in the higher percentiles of college players when spotting up, this is actually the play type he has been used the most on this season in Washington. Next up is transition, where he actually struggles. This could be because of his size, but he does need to be more assertive anyway. He sometime settle for floaters when he could get all the way to the cup. Sometimes players who are skinnier have this problem until they bulk up. With long strides and nice touch though, he can be a positive player in transition. In saying this, he still has a pretty strong foul-rate, high enough to rank him 20th in the Pac-12. His free-throw shooting percentage of 76.3 also bodes well for his overall shooting efficiency.

He also shoots some mid-rangers, and has a versatile game. He has good recognition with his teammates and looks to screen for others or use screens to get himself open. Because of his great positional size at six-foot-nine for a small forward he is a strong offensive rebounder, he can’t always finish on these opportunities, but he has a nice eye for balls off the glass. When attacking the basket he has a nice euro-step and doesn’t seem rushed when making plays at the rim. He can finish underhand also and seems to be developing a nice array of finishing moves.

He can pass the ball a bit too, it looks like he may have more up his sleeve than his current two assists a game. Again only 31 games is a limited sample in this regard.

Defensively, he also shows some great skills. Obviously because he is so long, he can block shots at the rim, but he moves well on the perimeter too. Blocking jumpers is never an easy skill, but McDaniels seems to have good anticipation and defends well on the ball. He is good at taking away drives and then forcing opponents into jumpers where he can close out and sometimes get a touch to alter the shot. Because of his frame he is more a three at the moment.

The biggest worry for him is obviously his weight, he can’t guard fours at all because of this. His natural athleticism may mean he is a great rim protector in the future, but at the moment even big threes will beat up on him. This is the same case on offense. Decision-making overall needs to be a work on, as he actually leads the PAC-12 in fouls committed. Sometimes though, when you are undersized you end up committing more fouls because of your inability to guard larger opponents. He can move his feet well so if the weight was added he could guard two, maybe three positions in the NBA.

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He is a good rebounder on defense though which is a positive considering his frame.

The Trail Blazers have a host of young wings in house, but none that have the size or offensive potential of McDaniels. He is one the best athletes in his drafting class and shows an all-round skill package that has drawn comparisons to Orlando Magic swingman Jonathan Isaac.

The Blazers will need to decide on their direction for the Draft, but McDaniels two-way potential may be of interest to this team. He is currently mocked at 14, right about where the Blazers sit on most boards.