Who is Sixers trade deadline acquisition Jalen McDaniels?

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Tx6 drives past Milwaukee Bucks’ Joe Ingles during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

After the dust settled following one of the most active trade deadlines in NBA history, the Philadelphia 76ers walked away with… two second-round picks and Jalen McDaniels in exchange for Matisse Thybulle and one of their own future second-rounders. At first glance, this might seem like a steal for the Sixers until the realization hits that the report reads Jalen McDaniels and not Jaden McDaniels, his far more accomplished brother at this point in their careers.

***Disclaimer*** Jalen McDaniels was charged with voyeurism while in college, full details of which were perfectly covered by Mark Zeigler and The San Diego Union-Tribune. This article will only speak on him as a basketball talent.

That being said, the siblings don’t just look alike; they also have similar roles and ceilings. Both are long, rangy forwards who project to be impactful defenders and projects on the offensive side of the ball.

This season, in a larger role, Jalen McDaniels has seen some significant regression on both ends of the court. While putting up career numbers in minutes, points, assists, and rebounds per game, his accuracy has taken a hit, and so has his defensive effort. To be fair, though, the Charlotte Hornets weren’t exactly the ideal situation for a developing young player (see: Miles Bridges and James Bouknight).

The hope is that once McDaniels arrives in Philly and the Sixers hand him back a more defined role and stable set of playing time, his demands will be simplified, and his production will reflect that transition. Before this season, he was about a league-average 3-point shooter who made presence felt on defense with his range and length as an on-ball perimeter defender, weakside shot blocker, and roamer in passing and driving lanes.

In 2021-22, McDaniels averaged a steal and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 38 percent from deep. He was one of only 11 players that season to reach those numbers while playing more than 500 minutes total. The others were Lonzo Ball, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, Isaiah Hartenstein, Nicolas Batum, Isaiah Roby, Dwight Howard, Mike Muscala, Danny Green, and Karl-Anthony Towns, according to Stathead. He won’t be KAT, but if McDaniels can be Philly’s version of Bruce Brown, Hartenstein, or Nic Batum, the Sixers can’t ask for much more for Matisse Thybulle.

If they can get that Jalen McDaniels for 20 minutes per game, the Sixers’ bench just got a whole lot better, especially factoring in his ability to guard bigger players and his willingness to shoot as opposed to Thybulle. If he can hit 38 percent of his triples on two attempts per game like he did in 2021-22, the Sixers may have a small heist on their hands.