The Charlotte Hornets took the biggest steal of the 2019 NBA Draft

Charlotte Hornets Jalen McDaniels. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Jalen McDaniels. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets, Jalen McDaniels
Charlotte Hornets Jalen McDaniels. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Jalen McDaniel’s Offense

Overall,  Jalen didn’t get to show a lot on the offensive end as the Charlotte Hornets didn’t really involve McDaniels on offense.  The brightest part of Jalen McDaniels’ offense was, much like his G League stint, improved 3 point shooting.

McDaniels shot 37.5% on 2.9 attempts per game with the Hornets, in line with his much larger sample size with the Swarm. This was a key aspect of Jalen’s game that needed, and has undergone improvement as Hornets development coach Nick Friedman detailed in a February interview with Jack Duffy:

"He’s been working the hardest this year on his shooting. Just showing that it can be consistent. Like you said, he’s shooting above 40 percent from three. He’s been excellent from the corners (where he will need to be when he plays for the Hornets). Just showing the ability that he can space the floor and be a threat."

However, a really notable weakness of McDaniels was his lack of burst with a live dribble. Whether it was off closeouts or simply trying to create off the dribble, Jalen really struggled to get by his man and put pressure on the basket. Instead, Jalen often had to settle for low percentage hook shots, floaters, and forcing passes into tight angles.

When the defense did collapse on McDaniels’ drives, he showed solid passing vision.

Those passing flashes really emphasize how important it is for McDaniels to improve his ability to attack closeouts; since he can clearly leverage his own rim gravity into finding open shooters. I’d suggest the major hindrance to McDaniels’ current ability to attack off the catch would be his ballhandling, as McDaniels actually shows impressive speed when leaking out in transition.

So whether it’s by improving his handle, extending his strides, putting in more work in the weight room or all of the above, improving his ability to attack off the catch is an integral improvement McDaniels must make down the road to become an effective starting forward.

Moving on; McDaniels shows a nice ability to move without the basketball. Some of the above clips of Jalen “attacking” closeouts were created by Jalen zoning up from the corner onto the wing, or shifting from one corner to the other. He is also a timely cutter who exploits holes in the defense, and because of this ability the Charlotte Hornets gave him a license to crash offensive boards

Apart from improving his ability to attack off the catch, one area I’d also like to see McDaniels develop is his post-game. Due to the prevalence of “switching” defenses in the modern NBA, guards often get cross-matched onto forwards.

Many NBA forwards, such as former Charlotte Hornets stalwarts Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams, have honed their low-post ability in order to capitalize when they’re being defended by guards.

This ability allows many “role players” to contribute to the offense despite not being able to consistently create off the dribble. Jalen developing the ability to punish smaller wings and guards in the post seems a logical step to increasing his offensive impact on the Charlotte Hornets.

Those who followed Jalen at San Diego State would be familiar with the forward’s footwork and touch around the basket; and he continued to flash those skills in his rookie season, so he clearly has the potential to be a solid scorer out of the post.

Jalen’s offensive game is still very much a work in progress; but because of his high basketball IQ and continued development as a player, I believe the seeds are there for a productive role player to blossom.  Regardless, it is the defensive side of the ball where Jalen projects to really cut his teeth in the NBA.