Could K.J. McDaniels Boost Houston To A Home Court Advantage?
By Trey Oursler
Rookie shooting guard K.J. McDaniels was acquired from Philadelphia midway through February and hasn’t seen much playing time since. He probably didn’t see his minutes or numbers rising after leaving a team that was fighting for the 1st-draft pick overall and heading to a team with the MVP front-runner at his position. Even though he hasn’t been the most valuable commodity for Coach McHale and a “tired” Rockets team, he may be utilized here in the next few weeks.
Jan 28, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard K.J. McDaniels (14) misses a dunk after he was fouled during the fourth quarter of the game against the Detroit Pistons at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers beat the Pistons 89-69. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Houston acquired McDaniels for the 2nd-round pick in 2013 Isaiah Canaan, who was a hopeful prospect and played decent minutes for the Rockets and D-League affiliates, as well as a 4th-round pick.
What Can He Bring To The Table?
- He is a 6’6, 205-pound shooting guard out of Clemson that averaged 11 points, 5 boards and an assist in his three years for the Tigers.
- He has incredible leaping ability and can fly when he gets the ball in his hands. This could help keep the Houston fans in the games at home as well as take some of the pressure off Corey Brewer from having to pump the crowd up nightly when Harden isn’t dropping 40.
- At his highest point this season for the 76ers, McDaniels averaged 10.6 points and 3.4 boards through November. He had big games against Dallas (21pts/13reb), San Antonio (10pts/9reb), Portland (12pts/4reb) and New Orleans (16pts/4reb), any of those team sound familiar to Rockets fans?
- Being over 6’4 with solid defense, McDaniels could also run some time at small forward with Josh Smith and Kostas Papnikolaou getting a lot of big man minutes with Dwight Howard out. Also, Trevor Ariza isn’t exactly the youngest player on the Rockets roster and could use a good back-up.
Take A Load Off
Although he has only suited up for 5 Rockets games since being traded, Houston could use some fresh, young legs with Harden and Brewer averaging 35 and 27 minutes per game.
The Rockets do have to push to make sure they can nail down a home-court spot in the Western Conference, but maybe instead of riding Harden through the finish line and hoping Dwight is there to catch everyone if it falls apart, why not give the kid a chance?
Pablo Prigioni and Nick Johnson are still on the Houston roster as well but Johnson has yet to show that he is capable of holding down that back-up SG spot and Prigioni is used for late-game tempo and blowouts.
NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper ranked McDaniels as the 6th best rookie this season and that had a lot to do with his partner-in-crime Nerlens Noel (ranked #2). Why is that important if he is on the Rockets now? Because Houston has a power forward from the University of Kentucky that happens to be a little more polished than Noel, his name is Terrence Jones.
TJ has been scorching this season when he can stay on the court, especially with Dwight Howard not snagging all of the boards and put-backs. With McDaniels and Jones on the floor, rebounding and transition offense should be helped as well as defensive length. Other players that McDaniels could work well with are Dontas Motiejunas, Josh Smith and the savvy veteran, Jason “The Jet” Terry feeding him in transition.
Next: Who is the Rockets' defensive anchor?
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