This is the fourth in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: DeAndre Daniels of Connecticut.
DeANDRE DANIELS, Connecticut
6-foot-8, 196 pounds
HIS STORY: A run through the NCAA Tournament can do wonders for your draft status. DeAndre Daniels is living proof of that. Before the Huskies went on their improbable run to the title, no one would dare say Daniels should leave UConn early. Shabazz Napier got a lot of the hype as star of the squad, but Daniels was the difference maker who propelled Connecticut from an above-average team to unexpected national champion. Going into the tournament he was averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. But he came alive in March, dropping 16 points and hauling in 7.2 rebounds each night. He increased his production but also showed a real knack to take and make big-time shots, usually from 3-point range.
HIS STRENGTHS: His best asset is that jump shot, which he greatly improved over his three years in Storrs. As a freshman, he shot a brutal 24 percent from 3-point range. But by his junior year, that number was an impressive 42 percent. He’s tall and has a high release point, so he can easily shoot over other small forwards, either in college or in the NBA. He also has a good fadeaway and pull-up game in the mid-range. He can go over either shoulder and has great touch. His long wingspan (7-feet) also helps get that jumper off over defenders and aids him defensively.
HIS WEAKNESSES: My biggest concern with Daniels is his slow release on his jumper. He can absolutely make them when he has time but it doesn’t come quick, and at the next level his greatest strength could potentially be nullified by quicker and more athletic defenders. And if he’s not making jump shots, I don’t think he can do much else for you at the NBA level. His handle is weak, and he can really struggle to create his own shot. Last year, he only had 17 assists on the season! So he’s not going to create shots for anyone else. He’s a good athlete, but not great. His length will help him defend, but he will struggle in closeout situations with the amazing athletes he’ll be guarding at the SF spot. Also, he’s very thin. He gained almost no weight in his three years at UConn. His lack of strength will affect him on both ends of the floor. He doesn't play very well through contact on offense (just over 3 FTA per game) and can get just outmuscled trying to stop guys driving or in post-up situations.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? I don’t think he’s a fit for the Celtics, and right now I don't think he's a fit for the league at all. His big-time six-game run through the tourney will get someone to take him, but I think another year at Storrs is what he needed: More time to work on his body, his handle, and his offensive moves, and he needed it to gain the confidence that comes with being the go-to guy. Right now he’s got potential, but is just a shooter. If he doesn’t earn a spot with a NBA team, I wouldn’t be surprised. But he’ll definitely have an opportunity to play in Europe, as his game is fit for that style as a stretch 4 man.
COMING ON SATURDAY: Jordan Clarkson of Missouri.