The Philadelphia 76ers’ K.J. McDaniels has performed well enough to garner serious consideration for the NBA’s Rising Stars game during the All-Star Weekend, despite the event’s new format causing his status to be put into question around the NBA, league sources told RealGM.
The NBA has started a rookie-sophomore game centered on a matchup between U.S. and World players, two 10-man rosters with four front court players, four backcourt players and two mixed position players. Each team must have at least three rookies and three second-year players on the roster. Under the old, mixed rules, McDaniels would be considered a lock.
The entry of McDaniels will be up to the voting of assistant coaches, and questions about his candidacy to make the U.S. roster have been met with simple cases of his statistical outputs and transformative abilities on the court this season.
As a rookie, McDaniels, 21, has averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks in 44 games. He has had a season full of dynamic blocks and dunks, a 6-foot-6 high-flyer who would enhance the exhibition challenge. Despite the U.S.-World change that has narrowed the competition, McDaniels has the prototypical skill set and season production to be part of the player pool.
The 76ers have gone 8-37 this season and have received backlash for their approach to team building, but could have four players in the Rising Stars game: McDaniels, Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington.
McDaniels, the 32nd pick in last June’s NBA draft out of Clemson, has risen into one of the league’s most promising rookies.