The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and the 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile looks at Washington forward Jaden McDaniels. Following an up and down year with the Huskies, McDaniels is projected to be selected somewhere between the late lottery and the middle of the second round.
- Height: 6’10”
- Weight: 200
- Wingspan: 6’11.5”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: F
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 18-32
- PTS: 13.0 | Per 40: 16.7
- REB: 5.8 | Per 40: 7.5
- AST: 2.1 | Per 40: 2.7
- BLK: 1.4 | Per 40: 1.8
- STL: 0.8 | Per 40: 1.0
- FG%: 40.5
- 3P%: 33.9
- FT%: 76.3
McDaniels possesses the length, athleticism and scoring skills that NBA teams covet. Buoyed by a tight handle and high release point on his shot, the Washington native can generate space with ease for his attempts from the field. On the perimeter, McDaniels has superb lateral speed that allows him to routinely beat his defender off the dribble. Without the ball, McDaniels is a superb catch-and-shoot operator (83rd percentile per Synergy Stats). In transition, he has the speed and ability to finish momentum-shifting dunks.
Defensively, McDaniels’ combination of length and quickness should allow him to guard multiple positions at the next level. Outside of his favorable physical attributes, the former Huskies standout emerged as a highlight-generating shot blocker from the weak side.
The concerns surrounding McDaniels’ upside in the NBA are twofold. First, he will need to fill out his frame to truly unlock his versatile skillset. On offense, McDaniels struggled to finish through contact and smaller defenders with sturdier anchors could stymie his attempts to establish position. Defensively, McDaniels could be a target for opponents that possess traditional post players.
The second major area of concern is McDaniels’ decision making on both ends of the floor. Despite his solid catch-and-shoot numbers, he too often attempts forced and contested shots. Those less-than-ideal attempts drag his numbers down to a pedestrian level. Defensively, McDaniels is a foul magnate. Outside of that traditional foul trouble, the 20-year-old forward committed meltdown-level infractions at different points of his freshman year.
Things did not go according to plan for McDaniels or the Huskies last season. Injuries and overall team struggles led to an 11-game losing streak in the heart of Pac-12 play. Individually, McDaniels established himself as a high-usage forward (10th highest usage in the Pac-12) and a dangerous shot blocker (fourth-most blocks in the Pac-12). On the other end of the spectrum, McDaniels finished with the most personal fouls during conference play.
On the surface, McDaniels possesses all the same tools that made him one of the most sought after recruits in his class. After a season of mixed results, it is clear that his status has diminished slightly. Optics aside, the offensive profile that McDaniels has, while playing at a position of need, bolsters his appeal to teams. If he lands in a steady situation, he is a clear favorite to progress above his draft slot. In a reduced role at the next level, McDaniels boasts the ability to provide floor spacing on one end of the floor and versatility on the other.
McDaniels’ potential fit with the Blazers is obvious. His offensive skill, in the right scenarios, could earn him situational minutes at the bottom of the rotation early in his career. In the short term, his catch-and-shoot ability would be a valuable addition to Portland’s offense. Moving forward, McDaniels has the makings of a dynamic two-way forward, an archetype that is in short supply on the Blazers’ current roster. Outside of the short and long term projections, the Blazers organization appears to have a structure in place that would help mitigate some of McDaniels’ decision making concerns. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see McDaniels and Wenyen Gabriel cross paths again.