Finally, the Sixers got a guy who can actually contribute to the team at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. It was beginning to look like they would be holding open tryouts sometime in the next few weeks. Fear not! Clemson's K.J. McDaniels is on board.
As a pure value, McDaniels is right in the range he was projected to be in before the Draft began. DraftExpress had him at No. 34 overall, and Jay Bilas' coveted "Best Available" board was flashing his name in neon lights for 20 minutes prior to him being drafted.
But the Sixers aren't building a team on the whims of a Dukie. LB's Dave Reuter highlighted K.J. in our Pimp Your Prospect series, gushing over his potential as a three-and-D guy who he presumed would go to San Antonio and haunt people's dreams for a decade.
I classify NBA Draft prospects into two camps:
1) Will they wind up on the Spurs and torture me for fifteen years?
2) Or won't they?
I love athletic guys who just terrorize teams on the defensive end. Hell, I had a fantasy basketball team paced by Walter Hermann that was named, "Active Hands." We preach that here in the Delaware Valley.
Defensively, McDaniels was an absolute monster in the ACC. He led the conference in blocks as a wing player, an impressive feat that speaks to both his physical tools and effort. You can't teach hustle, and this kid is going to give you 100 percent every night.
He's certainly not afraid of competition. In a profile at CBS Sports, McDaniels' battles with the likes of Kevin Durant (!!) and LeBron James (!!!) were cited as a catalyst for his improvement on both ends:
The seeds for his breakout were planted earlier. He was invited to attend the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and the LeBron James Skills Academy after his sophomore season. With Durant, he was starstruck at first, but still managed to block the superstar's shot. Durant wasn't happy.
"We have a picture of Kevin Durant and K.J. from the camp," Shawn said. "Kevin Durant does not look like K.J. is his favorite player. He looks like this kid here just got under my skin."
The three part of his three-and-D potential is a little murky at the moment, as McDaniels was around a 30 percent shooter from beyond the arc at Clemson. The good news is that McDaniels is an excellent free-throw shooter -- 84.2 percent from the line this year -- which is usually a sign that there are the makings of a future shooter.
This is likely your starting small forward on opening night. A solid choice, and the first one we'll get to see play out in real time.