2. Jalen McDaniels
The Sixers swapped Matisse Thybulle for Jalen McDaniels at the trade deadline to mixed reactions from the fanbase. The appeal lied in McDaniels’ more diverse offensive skill set. A long, rangy athlete, McDaniels averaged 10.6 points per game with Charlotte before the trade. His efficiency was middling at best, but he profiled as a more dynamic driver than Thybulle and his 3-point numbers were comparable, if not slightly preferable.
The idea of McDaniels is quite tantalizing. At 6-foot-9, he offers more positional versatility than Thybulle and the offense is much further along. And frankly, it’s far too early to write off Morey’s trade. Thybulle is out of the playoffs right now and his track record in the postseason is a well-documented disaster.
That being said, McDaniels just isn’t cutting it right now. The Celtics are comfortably ignoring him on the 3-point line and he’s killing the Sixers’ defense with simple mistakes. There have been flashes all season of McDaniels’ monster defensive upside — he shares a lot of physical traits with his younger brother, Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels — but right now, the Celtics are punishing his youth and inexperience. McDaniels spent his entire career prior to the trade with Charlotte, a notoriously undisciplined defensive team that was never competing for much. Sometimes the transition to competitive basketball is too stark in the first year.
The Sixers should continue to believe and invest in McDaniels moving forward, but he’s too raw to contribute in this Celtics series. Boston is too dynamic. The Sixers would be wise to shorten the bench rotation to just Paul Reed and De’Anthony Melton, or at least consider giving opportunities to Shake Milton or Danuel House instead.