The Toronto Raptors have some tough decisions to make, with a number of fringe guys vying for two vacant roster spots. While none of the hopefuls are good at many things, they are all good at at least one thing. Their future on the team will largely come down to whether the Raptors have a need for their particular skill, whether they can perform during preseason games and practices and whether they are nice to be around, or at least nice enough to pay a good salary to sit on the bench.
Then there’s upside.
K.J. McDaniels is a 24-year-old athletic wing with actual NBA experience. McDaniels is a second round pick, who probably got lucky by being picked by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014. Joining that hot bucket of garbage, McDaniels was able to contribute right away, and earn a moderate name for himself.
Excited to see KJ McDaniels this season? #WeTheNorth #RaptorsFastBreak #KJMcDaniels #Raptors #FastBreak pic.twitter.com/7JDZiwArRL— Raptors FastBreak (@RapsFastBreak) September 15, 2017
So McDaniels has played quite a bit, but he has never been great, or even good for long. After scoring 9.2 points and grabbing 3.8 rebounds per game in his rookie season (52 games played, 15 games started), he signed a deal with the Houston Rockets, and upon joining a real NBA team with real NBA players, his production cratered. He averaged just 2.4 points per game in his next season, and was traded the next year mid-season to the Brooklyn Nets, to once again join a garbage squad.
Here’s the real red flag: McDaniels only put up 6.3 points per game with the Nets, and they didn’t try to resign him. This is a young, cheap player with great athleticism and a penchant for fancy dunks, and a team starved for youth and talent passed on him.
My suspicion that KJ McDaniels is just bad seems well founded— Sean Woodley (@WoodleySean) October 4, 2017
This would normally be the point where I would talk about preseason performances and stats, but there isn’t much to say. McDaniels hasn’t done anything of note to improve his case to make the team. But, it’s fair to assume that what he does behind closed doors during practice is as important or more than what he does during a preseason game.
Do the Raptors need an athletic, raw wing who figures mostly as a defensive piece right now (think 3-and-D without the 3)? McDaniels would slot in at least behind DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell and C.J. Miles, if not another fringe player as well.
My honest feeling is that McDaniels doesn’t make the team, but he is offered a contract to play for Raptors 905 in the G-League, which I’m not sure he would take.