KJ McDaniels, 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and former Clemson star forward, worked out with several teams this week including the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors. These workouts, which are part of a series of 15 teams before the draft, began with Boston on Tuesday.
The Celtics, who will have the 17th pick in this years draft, worked out half a dozen mid-sized forwards and guards, most notably Kyle Anderson and T.J. Warren. McDaniels was the second shortest of the forwards invited, giving him the opportunity to showcase his defensive abilities against larger forwards and guard multiple positions. Reportedly, he had a lengthy conversation with Boston’s president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, about the role he could play in the Celtic’s lineup. Defense has always played a huge role in Boston’s game plan and it is possible that they could reach for McDaniels in the middle of the first round.
The Celtics, who had one of their worst seasons in recent franchise history due to the exodus of the aging stars they had relied on, will be looking to add athletic and talented youth to an older, lackluster roster. Boston also has the 6th overall pick and will certainly look to pick up a strong, offensive option to help solve the scoring woes of a team that finished 26th in the league in points per game. After selecting an offensive prospect, this would make it much more likely for the Celtics to select McDaniels as the versatile, shut down defender scouts expect him to be. McDaniels is an incredible athlete who should be able to guard four positions effectively and some less athletic centers.
KJ McDaniels also worked out with Charlotte on Wednesday, a team that could take him if he falls to them at the 24th pick. Like the Celtics, the Hornets also have a top ten pick that will more than likely be used on offensive talent. Charlotte showed holes in their defense when they faced the Heat in the Playoffs, and an athlete like McDaniels could help them become a legitimate contender in the East. He would also be a popular pick among the Charlotte fan base, making him a very viable option if he is still on the board.
McDaniels worked out with Toronto on Thursday and will continue to showcase his defensive abilities to a dozen more teams in the league. Though not a huge name in the draft, McDaniels would be a valuable addition to most NBA rosters. Shut down defenders will fit into any game plan and are becoming less and less common in the offense oriented game today. Though most mock drafts do not have him going until the final third of the first round, McDaniels should not be surprised if his name is called earlier.