K.J. McDaniels success in Philadelphia hasn’t translated to Houston so easily.
It wasn’t too long ago that the K.J. McDaniels looked to be well on his way to an exceedingly bright future in the NBA. The rookie from Clemson was drafted 32nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014 NBA Draft and had by many accounts looked to be the steal of the draft as his efforts in The City of Brotherly Love had made McDaniels a regular near the top of just about any updated rookie rankings, right alongside his teammate, Nerlens Noel. In his 52 games as a Sixer, which included 15 starts, McDaniels had become a human highlight reel en route to 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 shot rejections in 25.4 minutes per night.
Things looked promising for the Sixers’ rookie swingman. McDaniels was getting a considerable amount of time on the court for any rookie, he was able to play with relative freedom on both ends of the floor and the fan base in one of the greatest sports cities in the world loved him.
But the ties between McDaniels and the team that gave him his first opportunity in the NBA were soon severed, as the 6’6” shooting guard was dealt to the Houston Rockets prior to the NBA Trade Deadline in exchange for point guard Isaiah Canaan and a future second-round pick, and it’s safe to say that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, especially in this case.
As I mentioned earlier, McDaniels had put together a solid stat line during his time in Philly, headlined by his 9.2 points per game. But things have been much, much different for the Mobile, Alabama native upon his arrival to James Harden’s kingdom. In 14 games with Houston, McDaniels has rode the pine for all but 15 minutes, which has led to the totals of two points and two rebounds. McDaniels hasn’t recorded a single assist and has had a hard enough time even finding his own shot in what limited minutes he’s seen with Houston, shooting on 1-5 from the field and missing his only attempt from beyond the arc.
These aren’t numbers that reflect poor performance or anything, as McDaniels has failed to register a single minute of action in eight of his 14 games with Houston, but this does serve as a perfect example of how brutal the NBA can be to young players, especially those who get thrown into the mix of a roster led by an MVP candidate in Harden.
Who knows why McDaniels was ultimately traded after showing so many positives signs in Philly, but it certainly seems like McDaniels got the short end of the stick in this deal as Philly has moved on, while all he gets a front row seat to some playoff games while the Sixers load up on more draft picks.