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Jalen McDaniels Declares for NBA Draft, Keeps Return to San Diego State a Possibility

Jalen McDaniels NBA draft
Photo courtesy of Zimbio
The Aztecs…or the Association?

During the second half of San Diego State’s 65-67 defeat to Houston in the first-round of the NCAA college basketball tournament, freshman phenom forward Jalen McDaniels definitely looked like the Aztecs’ best player, as the Cougars could not stop his dribble drives to the paint, resulting in six second-half trips to the free throw line and a team-high of 18 points.

That stellar second half may be the last that Aztecs fans get to see of McDaniels in the scarlet and black as the talented redshirt freshman forward declared for the NBA Draft earlier this week.


However, McDaniels has hedged his bet by not hiring an agent, allowing him to return to the Aztecs if he is not pleased with where he might be drafted. In the NBA all players who are drafted in the first round (top 31 selections), have guaranteed three-year contracts as per labor union rules, but players selected in the second and final round (selections 32 through 62) do not have guaranteed contracts.

Therefore, McDaniels decision really relies on dollars and sense…

NBA – the Next Level

By not hiring an agent McDaniels is allowed to tip his toe in the proverbial NBA pool to test the waters. What McDaniels needs to decide is if he will attend the NBA Draft Combine in May to show off his skills for all 31 NBA teams.


McDaniels will also have an opportunity to work out for specific NBA teams. Early analysis on McDaniels’ draft prospects are wide ranging, some draft experts see him as a possible late lottery pick in the 10th to 20th pick range, while others view him as a late first-round draft pick to middle-second round in the 25th to 40th pick range.

It may seem like a small difference, but the difference is millions of dollars…

Potential NBA Teams

With McDaniels draft selection uncertain, these five NBA teams could be a good fit:

Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs – With the Spurs separation with all-star forward and Aztec Kahwi Leonard seemingly inevitable at this point, why not draft McDaniels to continue the Aztec forward tradition?

Dallas Mavericks – Future Hall-of-Fame forward Dirk Notwitski is retiring this season or next season, so why not draft McDaniels for him to learn from the legendary player with the exact same body type in the same position?

Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal


Denver Nuggets – The surprise NBA team of the 2017-18 season, the Nuggets are in need of more scoring from the forward position, so McDaniels could get drafted and become a contributing scorer from day one.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks – Just three seasons ago the Hawks were a playoff team and now they are laughingstocks of the NBA. They need scoring anywhere they can get it, so McDaniels would see big minutes and big scoring opportunities early with the Hawks.

Brooklyn Nets – If McDaniels wants to play in the biggest media market for exposure and potential marketing deals, being selected by the cellar-dwelling Nets in New York City wouldn’t be a bad deal. With young point guard D’Angelo Russell distributing the ball, the athletic McDaniels could see a lot of scoring opportunities on fast breaks.