On the surface, to the vast majority of the league’s casual fans, K.J. McDaniels is nothing more than an unrecognizable fringe player on a 76ers roster that’s full of them this season by design.
But in reality, he’s proving to be an elite defensive player, and an extremely smart business man.
In Monday’s preseason contest against the Nets, McDaniels gets a hold of Alan Anderson’s shot in midair, and pins it to the glass with two hands. Thanks to the mics behind the backboard, watch this one with the volume turned up, because the rejection sounds as good as it looks.
It’s worth noting that this was far from a random highlight play for McDaniels; he’s been blocking shots like crazy all preseason long. He’s fourth in the league with 14 total, behind only Andre Drummond, Pau Gasol and Samuel Dalembert, and ahead of proven rim protectors like DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis.
McDaniels took a unique approach to his rookie scale contract, foregoing additional dollars up front in order to ensure he’d be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. Plays like this one, along with his cumulative preseason body of work give us an early indication that he may have made a very wise decision.