Breven’s Blog: McDaniels Drafted by Hornets

Jalen McDaniels

The only question heading into last season for former Aztec basketball player Jalen McDaniels was whether or not he was going to be drafted.

This was one thing to look forward to this summer, as mentioned in my earlier preview. McDaniels had a great freshman year and some even compared him to former Aztec, Kawhi Leonard. McDaniels was only one of four freshmen in the country to average at least 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and shoot at least 58% from the field. That is how great he was as a freshman and why people were comparing him the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

After his freshman season was over, he tested the NBA waters, which meant participating in camps and playing in front of scouts to see what parts of his game needed to get better for year(s) to come. Obviously his weight was a factor for the position he played (195 pounds) at the power forward spot and sometimes at center. Even SDSU men’s basketball coach Brian Dutcher would refer to him as “the skinniest player in college basketball.” For reference, Anthony Davis has the same height as McDaniels (six-foot-10), but weighs 254 pounds, almost 50 pounds heavier. If Davis were to post up on McDaniels, terms like “Barbeque chicken” or “Bully ball” would be heard (credit to Shaquille O’Neal for those terms). Besides his weight, scouts also wanted to see McDaniels’ perimeter shooting improve.

And McDaniels did improve through his points.

During his freshman year, McDaniels averaged 10.5 points. In his sophomore year, he would increase that to 15.9 points per game. His outside shooting game is one of many factors related to the five-point increase. McDaniels started to not only post up and drive to the basket, but he would take shots from three-point range or make a one-dribble pull-up shot, just inside the 3-point arc.

Having a perimeter shot is huge in the NBA, especially for big men. Big centers or tall power forwards use their mid-range jumper to their advantage like San Antonio Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge. People wouldn’t expect a big man like Aldridge to shoot a mid-range shot; thus, when he does take the shot, it goes in.

Two months before draft, mock drafts had McDaniels as a late first-rounder or early second rounder. 

On draft night, McDaniels was the 52nd overall pick during the second round by the Charlotte Hornets, owned by one of the greatest basketball players to ever play, Michael Jordan. This settles the question of whether or not McDaniels was going to be drafted.

In McDaniels’ two years as an Aztec, he played every game of his career. He averaged 13.2 points, that includes a 30-point game against UNLV this past season, averaged 7.9 rebounds, shot 76% at the free-throw line, shot 50% from the field in two years and had 101 assists. 
In addition, McDaniels recorded 20 career double-doubles, which is the sixth highest in school history and second behind two-year players (Leonard leads with 40).

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Sports Blog: An Introduction

Here on this sports blog, you will see articles from different sports at different levels throughout the summer. I have a wide range of sports knowledge from our sports here at SDSU to the pros.

Summer 2019 at San Diego State is in full swing. I hope all of you had a great Memorial Day weekend. There will be at least one blog per week that could discuss SDSU’s Men’s basketball team to even the San Diego Padres.

Some topics include NBA Free Agency: Who will leave the Golden State Warriors? In addition, I may analyze the NBA Awards and the rest of the playoffs. Will the Warriors be the first team since the Lakers to three-peat?

In addition to the playoffs and the awards, the NBA Draft has developed major storylines. Everyone knows about Duke’s Zion Williamson and Marquette’s Ja Morant, but there is also San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels looking to hear his name be called in the draft.

Besides basketball, some Major League Baseball blogs might be seen here, especially with the San Diego Padres playing .500 baseball right now. In their 50th Anniversary since the first MLB Padres’ team was assembled in 1969 (hey, that’s when KCR began at SDSU), a lot has happened. You could also see some blogs on the Padres’ history as well.

July is filled with big things for baseball such as the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland, hosted by the Indians. At the end of month, it is the MLB Trade Deadline. Who will go and help that team make a playoff push into October? Which team will decide 2019 is the year to rebuild by trading some their biggest stars, similar to what the Baltimore Orioles did last year by trading Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop?  

As the calendar turns to fall, our SDSU Football team will be getting ready for the 2019 season. They have some big opponents coming to SDSU, including the rivalry game against Fresno State here at SDCCU Stadium on national television.

Speaking of the stadium, Measure G was passed last November, which means SDSU will have a new home for Aztec football. Stay here for updates on the new stadium and what is next to come from SDSU Athletic Director, John David Wicker.

Last but not least, golf could make an appearance. Former Aztec and San Diego-product Xander Schauffele is playing on the PGA Tour and will compete in tournaments this summer.

All of that and more so stay tuned!

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Sports Blog: NBA Finals Preview

Thus far, the NBA Playoffs has been pretty predictable, but still very exciting. Tomorrow, the NBA Finals begins with the back-to-back champions, the Golden State Warriors looking to go for a three-peat against the Toronto Raptors.

Let’s take a look back at how these two teams got to the Finals; The top-seeded Golden State Warriors were able to get past the Los Angeles Clippers in six games, despite losing center Demarcus Cousins to injury. Warriors’ forward Kevin Durant got past the Clippers and was one point shy of recording an NBA-record for most points scored in the first half of  playoff game. He did this in game six by tallying 38 points. Durant would finish with 50 points in the Warriors’ close-out game. Although Durant could not quite make history, one of his teammates did.

The two-time Most Valuable Player and Warriors’ Captain, Stephen Curry passed Ray Allen for made 3-pointers in the playoffs in game one, which he finished with 38 points and made eight shots from beyond the arc.

The Toronto Raptors entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and was able to hold off the No. 7 Orlando Magic in five games. The Magic was able to pull off a game one upset win in Toronto, but the Raptors would win the next four.

The Raptors have been on the rise. They were the best team in the Eastern Conference last year and lost to the Cavaliers in Round two. After trading a star (DeMar DeRozan) for another star (Kawhi Leonard), it elevates a franchise to win more. Even though the Raptors have former SDSU Men’s Basketball player, Leonard, the difference maker is Kyle Lowry.

In the loss to the Magic in the first game, he did not score and was 0-6 beyond the 3-point line. But in game two, Lowry would give the Raptors 22 points in the 111-82 blowout at home.

Not saying that Leonard is not good (I mean he is one of the best players in the NBA), but it is Lowry who was drafted by the Raptors and been a part of the organization for seven years while getting the Raptors over the ‘hump’ against teams. He knows the fans, the fans know who he is and when a player becomes a franchise player, like Curry, like Kobe Bryant, and like Dwyane Wade (in Miami), they step up and change the culture of the franchise.

Conference Semifinals

Round two of the playoffs featured a rematch between the Warriors and the No. 4 Houston Rockets. Both teams were able to hold home-field advantage from one another through the first five games.

However in game six, the Warriors lost their superstar, Kevin Durant to a right calf strain, but the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined to score 60 points and overpowered the Rockets’ backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden, winning 118-113 on the road.

With the road victory, the Warriors secured their 21st straight series win with at least one road victory. The Rockets kept saying all year long about how they were going to take down the Warriors.

The Raptors played a good Philadelphia 76ers team in the semifinals that had a starting five, similar to the Warriors, led by center Joel Embiid. In addition, they had Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris.

In seven games, the Raptors would be the team to win all four games, but it was Leonard to put the icing on the cake.

He went from the top of the key to the baseline, right in front of the Toronto bench and nail the shot at the buzzer, making him the only player in NBA history to hit a buzzer-beater to win game seven. Not only did he make the shot, but the ball bounced on the rim not once, not twice, but three times, just to make the play more intense.

Conference Finals

In the Conference Finals, the Raptors faced the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the Warriors faced the No. 3 Portland Trailblazers. The Warriors secured home field by winning the first two games of the series. Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr called the game two victory, “a steal.”

For the first two games in Milwaukee, the Bucks were able to also hold home field over the Raptors with Bucks’ Brook Lopez hitting a key three-pointer to seal the game one victory.

When it was Portland’s turn to play in front of their home crowd in both games 3 and 4, they would get out to big leads, but would lose it in the second half of both games and get swept to the reigning champions.

The Warriors were used to being down and finding a way back to ignite a push for the win. Remember last year in the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets when they were down in game six facing elimination and came back to win. In addition, it also came in the following game in a game seven, where the Warriors had to do the same thing, but on the road to win the game and the series.

Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry, who averaged 36.5 points in the series, and Portland’s Seth Curry became the first brothers to play each other in a Conference finals series.

The Eastern Conference Finals series was not like the Warriors sweeping Trailblazers in the West. After being down 2-0 in the series, the Raptors were able to win game three in two overtimes with Leonard keeping them in the game playing 52 minutes, the most he’s ever played in a game. The Raptors would take over for the rest of the series. They overpowered the Bucks and would win a total of four straight games, en route to winning its first Eastern Conference Finals series in franchise history.

The Finals

Now it is time to see who will heist the Larry O’Brien trophy. It all comes down to this series between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors to determine will be named the 2018-19 NBA Champions. The Warriors, who have made it to the NBA Finals for a fifth straight year, look to win the title and bring another championship back to the bay area and in the final season of Oracle Arena. Will the Warriors be able to defend the title for a third consecutive year and be the first team to three-peat since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal? Or will the Raptors win their first championship since joining the NBA and overthrow Dub Nation’s reign?

Here’s my prediction: Warriors in 6 games;

Finals MVP: Stephen Curry

With or without Durant, the Warriors have the experience with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguoudala and Shaun Livingston. The Warriors, whether they are the favorites or not have the ability to win. This is the final year at Oracle Arena, home of Dub Nation for the past 47 and they will send Oracle the right way: a championship in the final game, game six.

Written by: Breven Honda