For the Philadelphia 76ers faithful and exceedingly patient fan base, the incoming season will be one that will have to be seen in light of it’s silver linings. It’s as far out of the question as it can get that playoff chances are possible so to keep sane, Sixers’ fans will have to find joy in watching a very young roster and newbies gel together and build for the bright future. Of course, everybody wants to see the progression for Michael Carter-Williams Rookie of the Year season and how he follows up in 2014-15. Even more glorified will be the box top sensation looking to topple Manute Bol’s rookie shot block record.
But there’s a guy who has flown under the media attention radar and is someone Sixers’ fans will be become fond of once he finds his place within the team.
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K.J McDaniels became one of the steals of the draft after his first-round projection lead to him being selected 32nd overall. Regardless of his second-round selection, 76ers fans will love McDaniels.
Why? Well, Mcdaniels has a skill set that features his greatest strengths as things valued on the hardwood in Philadelphia such as athleticism, success in transition, defensive prowess and hustle.
Let’s start out with his athleticism. The Clemson product is 6’6” and seemingly 200 pounds of muscle. Along with this comes tremendous leaping ability and a physicality that will ultimately give him a chance to assume a starting role in Philly, given he builds on this foundation of athleticism and improves as a overall basketball player.
As a given from his athleticism, and arguably his most notable skill, McDaniels’ ability is transition is one that will present an opportunity for playing time to the rookie on a silver platter. As you can see in the scouting video above, McDaniels is more than a handful to handle in transition, which is where he shows of the more glorified benefit from his athleticism with dunk after dunk. For an offense that lacks any solid answers out on the wing, introducing a guy who flourishes with the pace being pushed into an offense that finished last season the highest offensive pace average in the NBA at 101.6 per game, it becomes an immediate recipe for offensive success…at least from an individual growth standpoint.
Then, just as with his athleticism having it’s perks offensively, it also gives him the potential to be great defensively. Last season at Clemson, McDaniels swatted an average of 2.7 shots per game, which is a tremendous number for a guy of his size. But he doesn’t get these blocks by way of hounding smaller guards on the perimeter, although, that is something he can do very well, but rather, he loves the battle of going inside against and contesting every shot. Of course, this is mostly on drive and opportunities he cashes in on, but he has a natural defensive identity that will mesh perfectly with the size and swarming defensive personalities of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
Finally comes what will ultimately be the reason fans will be filled with excitement every time McDaniels steps on the court. Outside if his flashy dunks and amazing rejections, he has a motor and determined effort that really becomes a game-changing factor at times. It takes effort to lock in defensively, to spend time in the paint fighting for rebounds and to actually crash the board after nearly every shot goes up. These are all hustle plays that the basketball culture in the city of Philadelphia will love about this guy. He does have to sculpt that effort into a more consistent habit but I don’t see that being much of an issue with the core group of guys around him being coached by Brett Brown.
From this point, McDaniels success builds on how well he takes advantage of the opportunities placed before him but with his talent and a void on the perimeter, the likelihood of Sixers’ fan understanding how impactful this guy can really be becomes a simple matter of time. Get ready to be amazed.