A strange and winding draft lands high-flying KJ McDaniels with needy Sixers

The Clemson Sports Blog

Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels waves to fans after being selected 32nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels waves to fans after being selected 32nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

A lot of teams took a hard look, and everybody passed - at least once.

But when the needy, future-focused Philadelphia 76ers' third pick - the second overall in the second round - rolled around, K.J. McDaniels was off the board, out of the audience at the Barclays Center, on stage, waving and wearing a Sixers hat.

A projected late first-rounder, McDaniels slipped only slightly during a night of wheeling and dealing that saw teams swapping players and selection-slots.

McDaniels landed on a team that needs all the help he can give it, on both ends of the floor. The 76ers reeled to a division-worst 19-63 record last season, which included a 26-game losing streak ended one shy of becoming the longest in America professional sports history.

"I'm gonna go out there, play my hardest, and give Philly my best," said McDaniels.

In drafting McDaniels, the Sixers are getting a proven commodity on defense and plenty of potential on the offensive end. The former Clemson star is a still (and rapidly) developing player offensively, and has made huge strides over the past two seasons in knocking down perimeter shots and in finding teammates off the drive.

NBADraft.net's scouting report sizes up McDaniels strengths and weaknesses this way:

Positives: KJ is obviously an outstanding athlete; he can jump really easily off two feet or of one without any difference. In the last year he finally used this gift to become one of the best rebounders in his conference while only 6’6 ... He is particularly dangerous on the offensive glass, where if he doesn’t have a body on him he knows how to get the crowd involved with spectacular tip dunks ... Transition is another area where he shines, both as a ball handler or runner on the wing, when he has the ball and there is nobody in his lane he goes strong to the basket, very often making the right decision ... When he is off the ball in transition he's often catching lobs and alley-oops

Weaknesses: His biggest weakness right now is still his offensive game ... His shot is getting better, particularly his 3 pointer with his feet set, but when defenders run him off the line he has a very poor pull up shooting and his decision making is highly questionable ... Needs to develop a mid-range game and learn how to finish around the rim ... Right now when he gets to the rim but can’t dunk, he struggles to finish, especially with his left hand ... Seems to suffer a lot when defenders get into his body, which raises some questions about his attitude to fight and be strong during a physical game.

McDaniels was part of a strange and winding draft night for the Sixers.

Philly used the No. 3 overall pick to grab 7-foot Kansas center Joel Emblid, who is doubtful for opening month of the 2014-15 season as he rehabs from foot surgery.

Picking again seven slots later, the Sixers drafted Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton, but then immediately traded him to the Orando Magic for the rights to Croatian star Dario Saric, who is currently contractually committed to a Turkish team, as well as future first and second-round draft picks.

The selection of Saric is a something of a gamble, in that he recently signed a three-year extension with Cibona of the Adriatic League. Saric assured the Sixers that he'll work out arrangements to join the team as soon as possible.

"I am not a liar. I told them I would be back," Saric told reporters after the draft. "I will play in Philadelphia. I think we can talk about that to my Turkey team after this season. If there is chance to leave, I will come here."

McDaniels was the first of five players taken by Philadelphia in the second round. After taking McDaniels at No. 32, they grabbed Syracuse power forward Jerami Grant at No. 39.

With their next pick, they selected Louisville's Russ Smith, but then traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans for point guard Pierre Jackson.

The Sixers finished their draft by selecting Serbian Players Vasilije Micic and Nemanja Dangubic.

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 3

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

Congrats to KJ. I guess I'm a Sixers fan now.

TigerNE writes:

I really don't follow the NBA much less the draft. But all of the pick-and-trade action going on is just weird.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

Philly's draft was about collecting assets while keeping cap commitments low. They had 2 1st-round picks and neither will play a full season this year. The 2nd round picks were interesting b/c Grant and KJ are very similar players. Both are long-armed athletic guys who run the floor well but don't shoot the ball particularly well. KJ is a better shot-blocker but Philly won't ask him to be one b/c they have 2 great rim protectors in Noel and Embiid. I can see Philly moving either Grant or KJ within 2 years. It doesn't make sense to have both.

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