The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the No. 1 and No. 33 pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the second round on June 26th. Today, we profile Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: DeAndre Daniels
Position: Small Forward/Power Forward
Height: 6’7.25” (w/o shoes); 6’8.5” (w/shoes)
Honors: NCAA All-Final Four Team (2014), East Region All-Tournament Team (2014)
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 13.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 46.9% FG%, 41.7% 3PT%, 78.7% FT%
DeAndre Daniels finished the 2012-2013 season strong averaging 21.2 points and nine rebounds over his final four games. Many thought he would use that finishing kick to propel himself to an even better 2013-2014 season. However, Daniels appeared to stagnate, and he was largely the same player as the year before. That all changed with the start of the postseason. Daniels scored in double figures in eight of UCONN’s nine postseason games, including three double-doubles. He was a big reason the Huskies were able to make, and ultimately win, the national championship. His crowning achievement was the Final Four matchup against Florida in which he played all forty minutes, scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
By far the most impressive thing Daniels has going for him is his length. At almost 6’9”, Daniels has more than enough size to play the small forward position. He still has to put some weight on, but he has the frame to do it. Not only is Daniels tall, he’s long. Very long. With a wingspan of 7’2”, and a standing reach of 8’10.5”, Daniels has the kind of length that will have Jay Bilas frothing at the mouth on draft night. That said, he’s not a great leaper, maxing out at 32”. Of course, when you are as tall and long as Daniels, obscene jumping ability is not necessary.
While Daniels was more or less the same in every statistical category moving from his Sophomore to Junior seasons, the two numbers that stand out are 3-point percent and free throw percent. Daniels went from shooting 70.5 percent from the line in 2012-2013 to 78.7 percent last year. His 3-point shooting improved even more dramatically, going from 30.9 percent to 41 percent despite taking an extra three per game. He was particularly adept in catch-and-shoot situations, averaging 1.14 points per possession.
Daniels plated a variety of roles for the Huskies, often swinging between the small forward and power forward positions. As mentioned, he was a very good spot-up shooter, but where he was most dangerous was the mid-post area. Because of his height and length, Daniels had the ability to shoot over almost any defender opposing teams could throw at him. Even when opponents tried to use big men, as Michigan State and Florida both attempted, Daniels had the ability to get them off balance then rise up over the top. Iowa State, notorious for their small-ball lineups, tried to get away with sticking a smaller guard on him. Daniels took advantage to the tune of 27 points and 10 rebounds.
His versatility makes him a matchup nightmare. Stick a smaller guy on him, and Daniels can take him to the post. Use a big man, and Daniels simply steps out to the three-point line. This makes him an effective pick-and-roll/pop player as he can do both things equally as well as the other.
On the flip side, Daniels is not a very good passer, and that’s putting it lightly. In 1100 minutes this season, Daniels had only 117 assists. With just 0.6 assists-per 40 minutes, he is the worst passing small forward since Al Thornton in 2007. He also has trouble getting to the free throw line, averaging 3.2 FT attempts per 40 minutes. Among Draft Express’ top 100 prospects, that ranks 98th. He almost avoids contact at all costs.
As is always the case (or so it seems), Daniels’ defense lags behind his offense. He is not the strongest player, so he can get bullied in the post. He’s also not the quickest laterally, which leaves him vulnerable to blow bys. Still, he has the tools to be a solid defender. He averaged 2 blocks per 40 minutes (pace adjusted), which is very good for a small forward. He’s also able to use his ridiculous wing span to make life difficult for his opponents, even if the end result isn’t a block.
The tendency to avoid contact is alarming. He allows his opponents to get right by him with little resistance. Against big men, he gets overpowered in the post. These are things Daniels will have to work on, and the hope is that putting on more weight and muscle will help remedy these issues.
Even with all the inconsistency, Daniels played his best when the lights were brightest. His remarkable improvement shooting the basketball shows that he is willing to put in the work to fix the holes in his game. There have been no serious off the court issues, and his willingness to wait out UCONN’s NCAA tournament probation showed a commitment to his teammates and their goals. He’s also had the benefit of playing for Kevin Ollie, a thirteen-year NBA veteran. There’s no doubt that Ollie will advise him throughout the draft process, and it appears Daniels is already taking that advice to heart. Said Daniels in a recent interview, “He always preaches doing the small things. I definitely know the small things can help me.” There is no doubt that the Cavs could use a player that loves to do the “small” things.
Finding a comparison for Daniels is next to impossible given the way today’s game is played. He’s a lanky, rail-thin wing that likes to operate out of the mid-post, but is also capable of stepping out and shooting the three. He has a long way to go defensively, but the best comparison is probably Tayshaun Prince. That is also likely to be his ceiling as well, if he can get to Prince’s level. They’re also from cities that are roughly an hour apart, though that’s more of an interesting coincidence than an indicator of similarity.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Much like Cleanthony Early, DeAndre Daniels would be a great fit at small forward should the Cavaliers select Joel Embiid at number one. He is very good in catch-and-shoot situations, which would be ideal for a small forward alongside Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. He has the ability to play a small-ball four, which would be very dangerous is the Cavaliers add a sniper on the wing. Defensively, he leaves a lot to be desired, but the tools are all there. He’s also coming off a national championship and would help bring a much-needed winning attitude to the organization