Wolves Notes: McDaniels, Gobert, Edwards, Towns

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels had arguably the best game of his four-year NBA career on Tuesday vs. Phoenix, posting 25 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. The Wolves outscored the Suns by 24 points in the 41 minutes he played and were outscored by 12 points during the seven minutes he was on the bench.

As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes, McDaniels has waited all year to shine on this sort of stage after feeling as if he let down his teammates last spring by punching a wall after the regular season finale, breaking his hand and ending his season. The young forward didn’t realize when he went to hit a canvas awning out of frustration that there was a concrete wall behind it, but still felt embarrassed about the injury — and distraught that he wasn’t available to help his club in the playoffs.

“I was sick just watching them play (vs. Denver in last year’s first round),” McDaniels said. “I just felt like it would have been different if I got hurt playing, trying to battle. Just hurting myself, I felt selfish.”

The incident didn’t dissuade the Timberwolves from investing long-term in McDaniels, who signed a five-year, $131MM rookie scale extension in the fall. But he has still been waiting all year for the opportunity to redeem himself in the postseason — through the first two games against Phoenix, he’s well on his way to delivering on that goal.

“His activity’s been on another level so far in two games,” head coach Chris Finch said of McDaniels.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • McDaniels’ strong play in the series vs. Phoenix certainly hasn’t escaped the notice of Suns head coach Frank Vogel, who suggested before Game 2 that his team needs to prepare a plan of attack for the defensive standout. “He’s outstanding,” Vogel said, per Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “His length, his athleticism, his quickness, his speed. He’s a great defensive player. We have to make sure we attack him the right away.”
  • Despite appearing likely to win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award this spring, Rudy Gobert was voted in The Athletic’s player poll as the NBA’s most overrated player. No one within the Wolves’ organization feels that way though, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who suggests that Gobert’s intensity and attention to detail are key reasons why the club didn’t lose three straight games all season. “There’s a difference between being the reason you win and being the reason you don’t lose,” Finch said. “And Rudy is the reason we don’t lose. He doesn’t let us lose these games. He’s been this way all season. He’s an incredible floor raiser and he just brings it and he knows when the team needs him to do this the most. That’s one of the many reasons he’s so valuable for us.”
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon published a similar feature on Gobert this week, exploring why the French center seems to rub so many of his fellow NBA players the wrong way — and why that no longer bothers Gobert.
  • Speaking to Taylor Rooks of TNT Sports (Twitter video link), Anthony Edwards expressed a belief that he and Karl-Anthony Towns are the NBA’s top duo. If the Wolves advance to the second round, they’d likely be on track to square off against another duo that believes it’s the league’s best: Nuggets stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
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