K.J. McDaniels’ NBA draft position come June 26 in Brooklyn won’t be for lack of effort – not that that’s surprising after the leap to first-team All-ACC status this past season.
After performing in last month’s NBA Draft Combine, the Birmingham native has worked out for six teams in a nine-day stretch this month: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers. He is scheduled to do 15 workouts in 23 days.
Pre-combine, McDaniels’ draft projections were more in the late first-round, but more and more analysts are thinking top-20 now. Yahoo Sports has him going as high as No. 16 to the Chicago Bulls.
"He's defending at a high level, of course, but shooting better than teams were expecting,” his agent Jason Martin said in a ClemsonTigers.com release this week. “The executives I've talked to feel he's shooting up draft boards."
One team hoping he doesn’t go quite so high is Memphis (pick 22), where he worked out Monday.
“I liked what I saw,” Griz coach Dave Joerger told the Commercial Appeal. “He played within himself really well. He fired out when he had the opportunity to.”
In a crucial time for players on that lottery-pick fringe, Joerger says not everybody plays that comfortably.
“A lot of times guys come in and they’re so antsy to show you what they can do that they show you what they can’t do,” he said. “I didn’t think that was the situation with (K.J.). He was very steady and under control. He showed you enough to say ‘Hey, now I’m ready for you to show me some other stuff.’ ”
Picking two spots later (24), Charlotte is another good fit for the athletic wing, where an area product can help in the rebranding effort.
“Getting back to the Hornets, I feel like that will be a big reason to bring a lot of the fans back,” McDaniels said. “Everybody loved the Hornets and Charlotte is a great place to be. I feel like it’s a great place to be.”
He says he’s been able to block out the projections and just go play during this workout gauntlet.
“I’m not concerned with the draft board right now,” McDaniels said. “I’m just coming to every workout to work hard and try to put my best foot forward.”