Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie celebrates with forward DeAndre Daniels (2) after they beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Is DeAndre Daniels going to help Toronto Raptors?

Apr 13, 2014; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels (2) and forward Breanna Stewart (30) and guard/forward Niels Giffey (5) look on during the UConn Mens and Womens Victory Celebration at the Connecticut State Capital. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors’ selection in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft was even more of an afterthought than these people usually are. DeAndre Daniels’ name was quickly scrawled down, then forgotten as attention returned to finding out something…anything…about the Raps’ #20 selection, Bruno Caboclo. Yet the #37 pick out of the University of Connecticut may be more than a perennial Development League mainstay. Is it possible our second selection may make the big team while the first one won’t?

Daniels is 22 years old, considerably older than most of the kids in the draft, and spent 3 years in college. He’s a rake-thin 6’8″ tall, carrying just 195 lbs. on an underdeveloped frame. He’s not going to leap out of the gym, though he’s athletic enough. DeAndre gets his shots off well, as he utilizes a high release point while fading away, both of which I like (though his feet aren’t together and pointed at the target, which I don’t). However, he struggles attacking the basket. He doesn’t make sound decisions while being tightly covered on his drives, and is further limited by a poor left hand. That lack of capability also affects his dribbling, which he seems to avoid. He won’t get an NBA job unless he improves his overall ball handling, as he can’t create his own shot. Being able to pick-&-pop is fine, but insufficient.

DeAndre’s defense is solid, but no more. He’s active, and blocks shots at a respectable rate. His lack of strength allows his opponents to get to “their” spot seemingly at will, which makes them more dangerous. I haven’t seen evidence of great rebounding instinct, but he boxes out reasonably well, and that’s half the battle.

While we might imagine DeAndre is more ready than Bruno to crack the lineup, I think that’s a remote possibility as of this writing. He needs a solid summer league performance, and many hours in the weight room, before he’s truly ready to challenge the incumbent small forwards. What’s more likely is him getting a training camp invitation following an active summer, then a season at Bakersfield with the Jam.

DeAndre helped his team win the NCAA championship, so he’s no stiff. He will need to find a skill he can build his career on, as he’s OK at everything and great at nothing currently. I like the pick, but I’d be very (pleasantly!) surprised if he were to emerge as anything more than a rotation-grade SG/SF.


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