Northwest Notes: McDaniels, KAT, Edwards, Blazers Injuries, Kessler

With Karl-Anthony Towns out indefinitely, the Timberwolves are going to need Jaden McDaniels to step up on the offensive side of the ball in order for Minnesota to reach its potential, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune writes.

For most of the season, the Wolves’ late-game offense consisted of Mike Conley getting Towns and Anthony Edwards in the best positions to succeed offensively. With or without Towns, McDaniels getting more involved could increase the team’s ceiling, Rand writes.

McDaniels is averaging 10.5 points per game while shooting 50.5% from the field and 36.0% from deep this season. However, he’s taking roughly the same number of shots per night as Conley and Rudy Gobert, and with the Wolves ranking 26th in offensive rating in fourth quarters, Rand believes McDaniels’ high ceiling holds the key to Minnesota’s improvement.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • There’s no replacement for Towns and his All-Star production, but Conley expressed optimism in the rest of a roster that has helped the Timberwolves post a West-best 43-19 record this season. “We’ve got full confidence in our roster for guys to step up and make plays in his absence,” Conley said, per Alan Horton of Wolves Radio (Twitter link). “We’ve had some experience with this [last season] and we’re gonna have to do it by committee, there’s no way to take up what he does with just one guy.
  • In their first game after the Towns injury news, the Timberwolves defeated the Pacers 113-111 behind 44 points from Anthony Edwards. Edwards exited for the locker room with a foot injury (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski), but returned to propel Minnesota to the win with 16 points and a big game-sealing block in the fourth quarter.
  • The Trail Blazers are dealing with a plethora of injuries to key players as the season winds on, with Malcolm Brogdon (elbow, out since Feb. 2), Shaedon Sharpe (abdominal, out since Jan. 11) and Scoot Henderson (thigh, out since Feb. 15) among them. Head coach Chauncey Billups provided updates on that trio, according to Rose Garden Report’s Sean Highkin (Twitter link). Brogdon is doing more work but is still experiencing discomfort in his elbow while Sharpe has begun light shooting. Henderson is further along and could be back this weekend (Twitter link).
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler, who hasn’t played since Feb. 27, was a full participant in practice on Thursday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen (Twitter link). While there isn’t definite news for his status in Utah’s Saturday game against Denver, it’s a step in the right direction, Larsen adds. In 51 games (17 starts) this season, Kessler is averaging 8.5 points and 7.4 rebounds.
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