Jaden McDaniels, Wolves forward (⬇️ DOWN)
McDaniels was the recipient of a lot of hype – from opposing players, his head coach and writers – for his defensive play this past season. Unfortunately, that’s all it turned out to be – hype. When voting was done for the NBA’s All-Defensive teams, McDaniels was left out, finishing sixth among forwards. The word “snub” was tossed around, and more than casually, by many. Sure, sometimes a local perspective can be a little slanted, especially when you see a player night after night (compared to others perhaps occasionally in person or TV). And that’s where the issue likely comes for McDaniels. How many people outside Minnesota saw him play? A case can be made for McDaniels to be on the first or second team (of course, the case has to show why he’s better than those named – and keep in mind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo also received more votes than McDaniels but was not on the first or second team). Defensive statistics are often intangible – players making comments, noting how McDaniels drew tough assignments, etc. There is, of course, evidence as well. The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski noted McDaniels “led all wings in block rate, dropped opponents’ expected shooting at the rim by 7 percent and spent the most time guarding All-Star players of any defender in the league.” There’s stats from Cleaning the Glass and NBA.com plus the fact he was the only forward with 75+ blocks and 70+ steals. The Wolves’ record and location likely had an impact (although a counter argument is Toronto’s OG Anunoby made second team). It didn’t help that McDaniels couldn’t be voted in as a guard – at the very least he’d probably have gotten second team over Dillon Brooks and/or Derrick White. At the end of the day, it’s another reason for Minnesota fans to feel angered. Perhaps McDaniels, too, and maybe this fuels his fire for 2023-24, although he’s been silent. His teammates picked up the cause, however.
For this year, at least, that’s as good as it’s going to get.
Carlos Correa, Twins shortstop (Playing: ⬇️ DOWN Accountability: ⬆️ UP)
The circumstances surrounding Correa’s return to the Twins wasn’t necessarily the best of situations. But the bottom line was Minnesota had back its superstar shortstop and that was great for the team. However, things haven’t gone well out of the gates for Correa. He’s hitting just .185 (this past week 3-for-27, although all three hits were for extra base) and heard boos from fans at Target Field on Tuesday night. But here’s the thing: Correa didn’t run away from the media or shy away from the jeers. He owned it. “I’d boo myself too with the amount of money I’m making, if I’m playing like that,” he said. “Obviously, it’s acceptable. It’s part of the game, part of sports Fans want production, and fans want a team that’s going to compete out there and win games. It’s to be expected when you play poorly. But at the same time, the work doesn’t stop. I’m going to keep working and keep focusing on the things I can control, and the results will come." Many athletes hide from negativity. Correa embraced it. We’re not saying that means he shouldn’t booed. It’s just refreshing to see. And hopefully that work will pay off. It is, after all, only May.
Minnesota Vikings fans (⬆️ UP)
NFL games played in Europe are cool, we guess. But know what’s even better? Not having to get up at 8 a.m. to watch a football game and hoping you have access to the channel on which it’s being aired. All hail a “normal” schedule.
Twins offense (⬇️ DOWN)
It’s not just Correa. Minnesota’s offense struggled mightily this past week – only two players who had 10+ plate appearances hit over .200. Jorge Polanco led the way at .231 (6-for-26) while Nick Gordon was at .214 (3-for-14). The Twins scored all of 17 runs over six games and just six over their last four.
Bailey Ober, Twins starting pitcher (⬆️ UP)
Ober didn’t make the rotation out of spring training, but he was a nice insurance policy waiting down in Triple-A. With Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle both on the injured list, Ober is back in the bigs and showing why he deserved to stay. In his latest start at Cleveland on May 5, he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He gave up just one run in 5 2/3 innings in each of his previous two starts. He owns a 0.98 ERA and 0.873 WHIP in his 18 1/3 innings. Ober has a potential tough test Thursday vs. the Padres, but after his stellar performance in 2022 – 3.21 ERA, 1.054 WHIP – this is no small sample size.