K.J. McDaniels not seeing many minutes in Houston
Highlight-reel dunks and acrobatic blocks will define K.J. McDaniels' short stint with the Sixers. In 54 games with the franchise, the former second-round selection proved to be a surprise standout from the highly-hyped 2014 draft class.
McDaniels bet on himself last summer by turning down Sam Hinkie's preferred four-year contract structure for rookies and instead signing for a single season; less security, but a chance for a bigger payday much sooner.
Over the first portion on the season, it looked like a good bet, as McDaniels' benefitted from the experience and exposure afforded to him by the reshaping Sixers. He climbed up rookie rankings, and through a combination of potential and on-court athleticism, McDaniels boosted his summer stock, while playing 25 minutes a game for Philadelphia.
With the Rockets, there have been no breakaway dunks for McDaniels, no chase-down blocks. Instead, there has just been a lot of sitting for the 22-year old rookie from Clemson.
In the midst of a title hunt in the crowded and teeming-with-talent Western Conference, the Rockets cannot afford to allot many minutes to an undeveloped rookie like McDaniels. With the Sixers, McDaniels could learn on the go and play through his mistakes. That is not the case in Houston, which already has established veterans Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer, and MVP-candidate James Harden holding down the perimeter positions. McDaniels has to take his minutes when he can get them, which thus far has been few and far between.
He has only appeared in two games for the Rockets since being traded well over a week ago, playing five total minutes. With the final playoff push approaching, where teams usually tighten up their rotations, that number doesn't figure to inflate much.
McDaniels, like former fellow traded teammate Michael Carter-Williams, will experience the playoffs sooner than expected, but he has suffered serious statistical sacrifice in the process.
McDaniels will still see some attractive offers this summer, largely based off of the potential he showed with the Sixers. He will almost certainly make more in his second season than he would have if he had accepted the traditional four-year rookie-scale contract, but you have to wonder if his market value will slip as a result of his lack of exposure in Houston.
Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb