76ers upgrade wing depth in big way with Jalen McDaniels trade

Jalen McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Those who feared a conspicuously quiet Daryl Morey trade deadline can rest a little easier tonight. According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, the Philadelphia 76ers have acquired Jalen McDaniels in a trade that sends Matisse Thybulle to the Portland Trail Blazers.

This trade comes after months of speculation about Thybulle’s future with the Sixers. The two-time All-Defensive wing was borderline unplayable for the Sixers last postseason and, upon the arrival of P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton, his minutes were dwindling fast.

In McDaniels, the Sixers receive a 25-year-old wing from Charlotte who can help paper over Thybulle’s absence defensively while providing much more on the offensive end. Here are the full details of the trade, per Neubeck.

The 76ers make an important upgrade on the wing

While Thybulle’s defensive acumen is beyond reproach, he was too limited offensively to thrive in an offense built around Joel Embiid — and maybe in the NBA at large. Portland will pair him with a more favorable No. 1 star in Damian Lillard. That said, McDaniels is the better overall player and he should immediately take over a significant role with the second unit.

At 6-foot-9, McDaniels brings ample size to the perimeter. He can slide between the 3 and 4 spots and one has to imagine he will spend a lot of time next to P.J. Tucker in small-ball lineups once the playoffs roll around.

A plus defender and better shooter than Thybulle, McDaniels is both a win-now piece and a long-term investment. He’s the same age as Thybulle and is similarly in the final season of his rookie contract (McDaniels, a former second-round pick, will enter unrestricted free agency, whereas Thybulle will be a restricted free agent).

While not a great shooter, McDaniels is shooting a respectable enough 32.2 percent on 3.6 attempts per game from deep. He will shoot more than Thybulle and command more respect, with a rock-solid 84.6 percent free throw rate suggesting room to improve (he shot 38.0 percent from deep last season, albeit on lower volume).

McDaniels is the ideal compromise with Thybulle: maybe not quite the same defensive player, but bigger and more versatile and with more to offer offensively (he’s averaging 10.6 points in 26.7 minutes per game with Charlotte).

The Sixers add an extra second-round pick to the arsenal in the process while offloading a player they were likely never keen on re-signing. It’s hard to complain. Expect McDaniels to not only absorb Thybulle’s minutes, per also take some from Georges Niang and Shake Milton.