2020 NBA Draft: Jaden McDaniels could be a steal deep in the first round

Tyler Byrum
NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaden McDaniels

Team: Washington
Position: Small Forward
Age: 19 (turns 20 in September)
Height: 6-9
Weight: 200
Wingspan: 7-1

2019/20 stats: 31 G, 31.1 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.4 bpg, 40.5 FG% (4.4/10.85.7), 33.9 3PT% (1.4/4.1), 76.3 FT%

Player comparison: Andrew Wiggins, T.J. Warren

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 16th, Sports Illustrated 13th, Ringer 22nd, NBADraft.net 15th, Bleacher Report 24th

5 things to know:

*McDaniels is one of the few lengthy wings that are projected to go near the top half of the first round. There are several areas of McDaniels' game that are enticing to want to draft him. His size is ideal for his position and he is comfortable scoring at all three levels. For his position, he is a capable ballhandler and can generate his own shot. An alpha dog mentality combined with those other elements makes him a top-five true wing player off the board.

*Expectations at Washington were high McDaniels and he definitely underwhelmed. Entering the season he was a top-10 recruit and many anticipated he would take a point forward type of role with the Huskies. Instead, he showed that he was a good all-around player and none of his skills were what one would consider 'elite.'


*As a good all-around player, there are players that have been able to shut down McDaniels. Initiating much of his offense from the perimeter, he lacks the take off speed of guards that likely will match up on him. His length will allow him to take pull-up jumpers and stepbacks but have a defender draped around him. He also lacks the strength of a post player which will keep him from hunkering down in the post. Having all of the skills is great, but he's going to have to improve one area of his game to give him a competitive edge.

*Much of McDaniels' versatility comes from an early right elbow injury. In his freshman year of high school, McDaniels was forced to shoot lefthanded because of the nagging injury. While he transitioned back to shooting righty, the experience quickly improved his handles and likely also gave him a better appreciation of his driving ability. 

*The McDaniels have quite the basketball family with NBA roots. Jaden's older brother Jalen was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with a second-round pick in 2019. Jalen played 16 games last season and was a rather effective power forward off the bench. The McDaniels are also cousins of former NBA star and Michigan head coach Juan Howard. 

Fit with Wizards: Unless the Wizards were to trade back - which they are not really in a position to do so - they would not be in a spot to draft McDaniels. There's a lot to like about McDaniels' game, but the lack of an elite skill will prevent him from standing out on an NBA roster and rising up draft boards. 

From a roster standpoint, he would likely be another option to try and fill the small forward spot that is currently occupied by Troy Brown Jr. Initially, McDaniels would likely start as Brown's backup but be expected to take over Brown's starting role in due time.

The two of them together would also give Scott Brooks a platoon option at the three. Brown is more ball-dominant and creative with his dribble with natural point guard tendencies. McDaniels can create his own space and hold his own with the ball but is more of an attack and score player. Both are good to have and bring different elements to the team. Considering they would also spend time with the second unit, which has been an Achilles heel of sorts for Washington over the past handful of seasons, Brooks could play the situation based on needs at the time. 

Drafting McDaniels would also make it difficult to keep Davis Bertans given the roster constraints. The team still needs to address the lack of interior presence and overall need of talented defenders; McDaniels offers neither. 

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2020 NBA Draft: Jaden McDaniels could be a steal deep in the first round originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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