Tuesday, November 11, 2014

K.J. McDaniels Destroys a Basketball; Puts Himself in RoTY Conversation

Shooting Guard/Small Forward, K.J. McDaniels

      In the 2013 NBA Draft 76ers fans saw All-Star point guard traded for the #6 overall pick that year (Nerlens Noel) and the need to fill the hole at point guard.  With their own pick that year, #11 overall, they filled that need with former Syracuse point guard, Michael Carter-Williams.  Since then the man known as "MCW" went on to win Rookie of the Year honors for the 76ers, and will be making his 2014/15 debut within the coming days, finally healthy after off-season shoulder surgery.

   However, in between MCW's surgery and the start of this season was the 2014 NBA Draft.  A most exciting draft for 76er fans everywhere.  With the 32nd pick in the draft, which puts us in the second round and final round, the 76ers selected that bad man in the picture up there. K.J. McDaniels, fresh off ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors, and being everything for a Clemson team that most likely would have finished very close to last had he not been on the team.  Now as a 2nd round pick rookie with 76ers, K.J. doesn't have to be the man on the court doing everything.  However, watch a game and you'll find it near impossible to not notice number 14 doing positively impacting the game over and over again.

  Starting on the defensive side of the ball, where K.J. has really excelled so far in the early going, garnering some headlines around the league even.  This past Sunday, McDaniels rose up, stayed up, and you can watch for yourself what happens next. To those who are less familiar with K.J.'s game, this was not some once in a while block. The 6'7'' guard/forward is currently averaging an outstanding 1.7 BPG (blocks per game) in just a shade under 24 minutes per game.  He could realistically reach 2.0 bpg with an increase in minutes. As the GIF shows, K.J. is excellent at reading plays and helping on D. What you might also have noticed is how high K.J. climbed the latter in that play.  Not only does that help him swat more shots, but it makes him a huge threat in transition, cutting to the basket and on put back attempts. He has shown the capability to soar over defenders and flush it down with the best of them in just 7 games, and the pre-season. Marc and Malik on the call:


 On the Season K.J. is averaging 9.3 PPG, 2.1 BPG, 1.7 BPG, and 1.2 APG.  Perhaps the most surprising skill McDaniels has featured thus far is his stroke from long range. In seven games he has shot the 3 ball at a 42.1% clip on 2.7 attempts per game.

  Compared to other rookies, McDaniels is third in scoring behind Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Bojan Bogdanovic of the Brooklyn Nets.  However, he currently is second in 3pt FG %, only behind Jordan Clarkson, 3/5 from three land. Also, he is second to only teammate, and fellow rookie Nerlens Noel. K.J. as mentioned earlier is averaging a whopping 1.7 BPG as a guard, and Noel is just a tenth higher at 1.8 BPG.

  It is obvious to fans and NBA analysts alike, that K.J. is one of the better players on the 76ers already, and many believe he should get more minutes because of his impact play. Should that happen, McDaniels should be able to keep himself in the mix for a top 3 finish or better in all of those statistical categories, not to mention all the highlights he will have racked up along the way. It won't be easy, but if he can sustain the blocks and ultimately set the record for most blocks per game as a guard, his chances to win rookie of the year should improve dramatically.  This would obviously give the 76ers back to back Rookie of the Year winners, and would be something for the fans to hang their hat on as this rebuilding process continues on.  Regardless of K.J. winning the award, the team still has an excellent player on its hands. But make no mistake, he has a legit shot to win the award. The award hasn't been won by a player outside of the first rounder since Woody Sauldsberry was taken in the 8th round of the 1957 draft by the Philadelphia Warriors.  Of course, the draft has since changed to two rounds, but none the less a second rounder has never won the award.

More blocks for your enjoyment:

Not once, but twice, ouch Mario Chalmers:


Cole Miller, from Haddonfield, NJ, is currently a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel. Aspiring to be a baseball or basketball scout, Cole  has volunteered for the 43rd SABR convention, a large convention with many speakers and other events for baseball fans who enjoy the new age statistics being brought to baseball such as WAR (wins above replacement ). He currently also writes for the Phillies prospect website, Phillies' Minor Thoughts.

You can connect with Cole on Twitter @CParker_Miller and on LinkedIn here.

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