Jaden McDaniels

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Caruso, Timberwolves, Williams

The Nuggets might to be turning a corner on the defensive end, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Denver has won six of its past seven games to move to 20-11, and the team is 12th in defensive rating over that span, up from 23rd on the season, Singer notes.

As Singer details, the third quarter of Friday’s home win over Portland was a particularly impressive defensive stretch, with the Nuggets outscoring the Blazers 35-16. Michael Porter Jr., who made his return to the lineup after a 13-game absence with a left foot injury, played a big part in that effort, as did Jamal Murray, who sat out Tuesday’s game due to knee maintenance.

When our defense turned up, the offense is great, but I just get so excited when I see five guys locked in, on a string,” head coach Michael Malone said, per Singer.

Porter described his injury as a form of plantar fasciitis, and he finished with 18 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes, Singer adds. Murray nearly notched a triple-double, recording 25 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and a couple steals.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In a subscriber-only story for The Denver Post, Singer says league-wide parity has contributed to a lack of sellers on the trade market thus far. The Bulls haven’t shown any interest in dealing away contributing players yet, but if that changes, Alex Caruso would be a nice bench upgrade for the Nuggets, according to Singer, who also thinks an upgrade over Zeke Nnaji and DeAndre Jordan at the backup five might be needed if Denver doesn’t trust either player for a postseason run.
  • Four Timberwolves role players — Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, Jaylen Nowell and Nathan Knight — have a special bond, and their camaraderie has helped the team during tense moments, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I want to see the whole team succeed. But those are guys that I’m very, very close with,” Nowell said. “They’re really like blood brothers. It hits a little different when you see your family being successful.” All four are at key junctures in their careers — McDaniels is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the summer, Reid and Nowell will be unrestricted free agents, and Knight is playing on a non-guaranteed deal.
  • Rookie big man Jaylin Williams, the 34th overall pick of June’s draft, sustained a concussion on Wednesday in a G League contest for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder announced. The second-rounder is now in the league’s concussion protocol. Williams has only made seven NBA appearances thus far, averaging 3.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 8.7 minutes per contest, but he has been a regular with the Blue, the Thunder’s affiliate, averaging 14.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.3 APG and 1.4 SPG on .626/.364/.741 shooting in 11 games (30.6 MPG).

Wolves’ Jaden McDaniels Talks Season, Goals, More

As a former first-round pick in his third year, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels is in the midst of an important season for his career — he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2023. The rangy, versatile defender is averaging career highs in several categories thus far in 2022/23, including points (10.9), steals (1.1), blocks (1.2), FG% (52.7), 3PT% (36.9) and minutes (30.1) through 27 games.

McDaniels recently spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about a number of different topics, including how he improves defensively, who he compares himself to, the team’s goal for ’22/23, his long-term individual goals, and more. Here are a few highlights:

On the Wolves’ season thus far and his own development:

“For the team, it’s been a little up and down, but there have been certain times this season where we click, and we’re playing our best basketball. Then, there’s sometimes I feel like with KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) being down, it hurts us. Defensively, sometimes we slip. I feel like it’s going to come together. It has to work for us. That’s what we’re saying. Continue to stick with it.

“For me, I’d say staying aggressive offensively and getting to my spots while continuing to shoot the three really well. I want to continue to guard the best player on the other team and make it as tough as I can.”

“Fair expectations” for the current season after the Rudy Gobert trade over the summer:

“I feel like we’ll go to the playoffs and try and get further than we did last year. Our goal is the second or third round. Our main goal is the championship, but we’ve got to start somewhere, so I’ll say do better than we did last year for right now.”

Long-term goals for his career:

“Sometime, I’d love to be an All-Star. Right now, things I feel are accomplishable are being on the All-Defensive Team. I feel like I could be one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Then, continuing to build off that to All-Star games to being a playoff MVP and all those types of things.”

Karl-Anthony Towns Diagnosed With Calf Strain, Will Undergo MRI

Timberwolves star forward Karl-Anthony Towns will be further evaluated on Tuesday after an initial diagnosis of a right calf strain, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets.

Towns suffered a non-contact injury during the third quarter of Minnesota’s contest against Washington on Monday night. He grabbed at the back of his leg as tried to head down the court. Towns needed assistance to be helped back to the locker room.

“Obviously super-concerned about that. Big blow for us,” coach Chris Finch said (Twitter link via David Aldridge of The Athletic).

Towns will get an MRI but there’s some early optimism that he may have avoided a substantial injury, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

It has been a disappointing season so far for the Timberwolves, whose record dropped to 10-11 with a loss to the Wizards. They were expected to be serious contenders in the Western Conference after the blockbuster trade with Utah that brought center Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.

An extended absence for Towns would make it much more difficult for a turnaround. He’s averaging 21.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

The Timberwolves frontcourt is already dealing with the absence of Taurean Prince, who expected to be out a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury. Jaden McDaniels missed Monday’s game due to an illness.

Northwest Notes: McDaniels, Timberwolves, Brown, Jokic

Timberwolves power forward Jaden McDaniels gets his offense by being in the right space in the right time. A high-scoring night for McDaniels is usually indicative of good ball movement from his Minnesota teammates, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

“He’s a really good cutter,” head coach Chris Finch said. “Our offense relies on cutting a lot, and a lot of guys don’t have a great feel for that or are reluctant to cut, because they’re way more ball-dominant, but he’s such a good cutter, and the ball has to be moving in different spots that allows those cuts to open up to be there… He’s going to be the beneficiary of good offense, good flow.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves are emphasizing a motion-heavy offense this season, per Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. All-Star center Rudy Gobert is excited to be sharing the floor, and the rock, with fellow All-Star teammate Karl-Anthony Towns. “I think this is where we can really punish teams,” Gobert said of Towns. “It’s really important that we keep working on it. The fact that he can pass and he’s willing to pass has made him even more of a threat.” 
  • New Nuggets shooting guard Bruce Brown has a fan in head coach Michael Malone, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). “I’m so thankful that we were able to sign Bruce Brown in free agency,” Malone told reporters after Wednesday’s win.
  • Sean Keeler of The Denver Post writes that Brown, known primarily as an unorthodox roll man and defender during his time with the Nets, is looking more multifaceted in Denver, thanks to a solid shooting start. “[His] shooting, in Brooklyn, he really wasn’t known for it because of the way he had to play,” Nuggets power forward Jeff Green said. “He had to sacrifice a lot (there). So I think now, people are going have to respect what he can bring to the table.” The 6’5″ vet did connect on 40.4% of his three-pointers during his 2021/22 season with Brooklyn, albeit on a fairly low-volume 1.3 attempts a night. Thus far with Denver, Brown is shooting 50% on his 3.2 looks from long range.
  • Though Nuggets All-NBA center Nikola Jokic is not an elite rim protector, his court sense on defense allows him to remain underrated on that side of the floor, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post in a new mailbag. Singer also discusses the team’s apparent plan to employ a switch-heavy defense for every position beyond Jokic, the three-point shooting prowess of Michael Porter Jr., and Denver’s road-heavy early season schedule.

Wolves Pick Up 2023/24 Options On Edwards, McDaniels

OCTOBER 15: The Timberwolves have officially exercised their options on Edwards and McDaniels, the team announced in a press release.

OCTOBER 14: The Timberwolves are picking up their 2023/24 team options on Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The news was expected, since both players are key members of a rising Minnesota squad. Edwards will earn $13,534,817 in his fourth season, while McDaniels will make $3,901,399.

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft, Edwards had a strong rookie season and was even better in year two, improving his numbers across the board to the tune of 21.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.5 SPG on .441/.357/.786 shooting in 72 games (34.3 MPG). The 21-year-old wing is hoping to make big strides on the defensive end this season.

McDaniels, who just turned 22 a couple of weeks ago, was the No. 28 overall pick of the 2020 draft. The 6’9″ forward is a long, athletic and versatile defender who averaged 9.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 0.8 BPG on .460/.317/.803 shooting in 70 games (31 starts, 25.8 MPG) last season. He has reportedly been named the starting small forward to open 2022/23.

Minnesota exercising the fourth-year options makes both players eligible for rookie scale extensions next summer, with Edwards basically a lock to receive a maximum-salary deal.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, McDaniels, Azubuike, Sharpe

After replacing his old boss Tim Connelly this offseason, new Nuggets head of basketball operations Calvin Booth had a busy summer, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, signing Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, and using first-round picks on Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Booth said the Nuggets’ offseason goals were to upgrade their defense, get more athletic, and add more two-way talents. He feels the team accomplished those goals.

“With KCP, we have one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league, someone with championship experience and a proven vet,” Booth said. “Bruce was one of the most underrated guys in the league last season. We’re finding that out every day in the game with how sophisticated of a game he has.

“Christian and Peyton will eventually address those needs. We valued DeAndre’s vet leadership and the way he communicates. He’s one of the best rebounders of his generation, and he can still do that. Ish Smith has been a great addition as well and brings different levels of speed and pace to the game.”

In his Q&A with Medina, Booth also discussed several other Nuggets-related topics, including Nikola Jokic‘s chances of winning a third consecutive MVP award, Jamal Murray‘s return from an ACL tear, and Booth’s own contract extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Nuggets have a chance to come out of the West this season, he thinks there are still too many question marks related to the team’s depth and returning stars to actually forecast such a scenario. In his preview of Denver’s season, Hollinger projects a 50-32 record and a fourth-place finish in the West.
  • Jaden McDaniels will be the Timberwolves‘ starting small forward to open the 2022/23 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. McDaniels, whom the team worked hard to keep out of the Rudy Gobert trade, will fill out a star-studded lineup that features Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns up front, with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, who underwent surgery on his right foot and ankle in March, was cleared to practice in full on Thursday for the first time in seven months, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I was excited about it,” Azubuike said. “We did some exercises in the morning before practice, and that felt good. Then, me going out there, getting a rep and you know, I’m just excited. It really felt good.” It remains to be seen if the former first-round pick will earn a spot on Utah’s regular season roster, since the team has 18 players on standard contracts and will need to make cuts by Monday.
  • Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe has signed with agent Mike George of One Legacy Sports for representation, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Russell, Edwards, Anderson, McDaniels

With Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined for the start of the Timberwolves‘ training camp due to a non-COVID illness, center Rudy Gobert didn’t get a chance to work with his new frontcourt partner in his first formal practice with the team on Tuesday. But Gobert said he felt “great” energy on Tuesday and spoke specifically about developing chemistry with new pick-and-roll partner D’Angelo Russell.

“He can see it all,” Gobert said of Russell, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “There’s a few times when I didn’t know that he saw me, and he still saw me. It’s really impressive and it’s really exciting.”

As for his partnership with Towns, Gobert said the two big men have been in contact since he was traded to Minnesota in July and have talked about how they’ll be able to maximize each other’s talent.

“On both ends on the floor and even off the floor, just be a great friend, be a great support for him and then on the court, just let that relationship carry over,” Gobert said. “Help him be the best Karl he can be and I know, just by being himself, he’s going to help me be the best Rudy I can be.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Gobert’s friend and fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum said he was glad to see the longtime Jazz center dealt to Minnesota and thinks Gobert will be better off for it, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times tweets. “I don’t think I will say I like it because (the Wolves) beat us in the play-in last year,” Batum said. “… But just for my friend, I am happy to see him with a good team, new spot, new everything, new life for him. He needed that.”
  • Anthony Edwards added 11 pounds of muscle this offseason without increasing his body fat, multiples sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I feel like I’m in better shape, more than anything,” Edwards said. “That’s going to take everything to the next level.”
  • Within the same story, Krawczynski examines a few takeaways from the Wolves’ Media Day, including why veteran forward Kyle Anderson signed with Minnesota as a free agent and what he’ll bring to the team. “Those guys in Minnesota really competed, one through 11, 12, those guys all played really hard,” Anderson said. “You could see the cohesiveness, they played hard for one another. So when it came down to this summer and which team I wanted to sign with, I think this was an easy call.”
  • After working hard to keep Jaden McDaniels out of the trade package for Gobert this summer, the Timberwolves are working just as hard to unlock the young forward’s full potential, Krawczynski writes in a separate article for The Athletic. Among the interesting details in Krawczynski’s story: Minnesota determined that McDaniels’ optimal shooting arc is 47 degrees and used an app during summer workouts to ensure that he was consistently releasing it at that angle.

Wolves Notes: Finch, K. Anderson, McDaniels, Nowell

After a competitive playoff performance and a major offseason trade that brought in Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves appear to be legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. Minnesota won 46 games and reached the postseason for the first time in four years, but coach Chris Finch plans to emphasize to his team that the next step won’t come easily, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“I’m thinking a lot about the tone I want to set when we start,” Finch said. “We’re not going to be good because we expect to be good. We’re not going to be good because we had a good season last year. We’re going to be good because of the foundation that we lay from Day 1 and continue to build on that.”

Minnesota sent five players and a hefty package of draft assets to Utah to acquire Gobert, but the front office views him as a difference maker and doesn’t believe it overpaid, Krawczynski adds. Now it’s up to Finch and the rest of the coaching staff to figure out the best way to use Gobert alongside fellow big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

“I’m trying not to overthink that right now,” Finch said. “I don’t want to solve a problem before we have a problem. But we have to have some ideas ready to go.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The addition of Kyle Anderson in free agency was an underrated offseason move, Krawczynski adds in a mailbag column. The 28-year-old forward doesn’t put up flashy stat lines, but he’s a versatile defender who can make up for the losses of Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt and he can handle the ball and help run the offense. He also brings playoff experience, appearing in nine series during his time with the Spurs and Grizzlies.
  • Jaden McDaniels has a chance to become a starter this season, and team officials are very happy with what they’ve seen from him during the summer, Krawczynski states in the same piece. McDaniels has been training at the team facility along with Naz Reid, Nathan Knight and several other players. He’s been focused on becoming stronger and quicker and has been working with player development coach Joe Boylan to improve as a transition scorer.
  • With Beverley and Malik Beasley shipped out in the Gobert trade, Jaylen Nowell will likely be the first guard off the Wolves’ bench, Krawczynski adds. The team talked to Nowell about an extension after the end of last season, according to Krawczynski, but didn’t offer enough for him to commit without knowing whether he would have a role in the rotation.

Wolves’ Glen Taylor Talks Gobert, McDaniels, Russell, Towns

Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor admitted he was somewhat surprised by the team’s acquisition of star center Rudy Gobert, since it “happened fairly fast.”

According to Taylor, new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal.

“What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”

Taylor confirmed that the Jazz pushed for Jaden McDaniels to be part of the trade package for Gobert, which “prolonged the trade talks for a while,” but the Wolves were eventually able to meet Utah’s asking price without including the young forward.

Here’s more from Taylor on the Wolves:

  • Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
  • The decision to give Towns a super-max extension this offseason was an easy one, Taylor said: “It was a non-issue. That’s what we set it up for, the elite players, and Karl has proved he’s one of those players.”
  • Taylor said that he doesn’t expect the Timberwolves to make any more significant roster moves this offseason, though he didn’t rule out the possibility that Connelly could surprise him. “I just know Tim keeps his ears and eyes open all the time, looking (to see) if there’s something else that might happen,” Taylor said. “He’s very proactive if he sees an opportunity that could enhance our team. I think we’re set, but always knowing that he’ll be looking for an opportunity.”
  • The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”

Jazz Rumors: Mitchell, Gobert Trade, McDaniels, Backcourt

In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast (video link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said people around the league still believe Donovan Mitchell will be traded, despite reports that the Jazz plan to retool around the All-Star guard following the Rudy Gobert blockbuster. His ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon agrees.

“I don’t think he’s on the roster when the season starts,” MacMahon said. “Maybe he is. I’d be shocked if he’s on the roster after the trade deadline.”

Tony Jones of The Athletic, who – along with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – reported following the Gobert trade agreement that the Jazz don’t intend to move Mitchell, reiterated on Friday night that the team is “not amenable” to trading the former Louisville star. The plan is for Mitchell to be with the team for the start of the 2022/23 season, Jones says.

However, Jones added a caveat: If Utah receives an offer that’s similar in scale to the Gobert package, “it will be hard not listen.” Jones also notes that the Jazz will need to ensure they have Mitchell’s buy-in before committing to building the roster around him.

Mitchell and Gobert never seemed to be on the best of terms, so Mitchell may not view the Gobert trade unfavorably, especially if the front office is committed to flipping some of the assets from that package for win-now help.

Still, the team just hired a first-time head coach (Will Hardy) on a five-year contract and may be moving on from three of Mitchell’s best friends on the roster (Royce O’Neale was traded to Brooklyn, while Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest became unrestricted free agents after not receiving qualifying offers). So there will have to be conversations between the Jazz and the 25-year-old guard, Jones writes.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • In initial negotiations between the Jazz and Timberwolves for Gobert, Utah was insisting on the inclusion of forward Jaden McDaniels, but Minnesota refused, according to Jones. That’s one reason why the package of draft picks (three unprotected first-rounders, a top-five protected first-rounder, and a swap) was so substantial — the Wolves preferred to give up extra draft assets rather than surrender McDaniels.
  • The Jazz’s front office viewed Gobert’s super-max contract as a “hindrance,” sources tell Jones. The big man is owed a guaranteed $123MM over the next three seasons and has a $46.7MM player option for 2025/26, so moving that contract creates significant cap flexibility for Utah going forward.
  • The Jazz are “not even close” to finished with their offseason, according to Jones, who says a logjam in the backcourt will need to be cleared. In addition to Mitchell, Utah still has guards Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker , Jared Butler, and Leandro Bolmaro.
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune breaks down the return the Jazz got for Gobert, making a case that all 10 pieces headed to Utah can be viewed as assets (as opposed to filler).