The Minnesota Timberwolves have no shortage of youth or talent on their 2021-22 roster.
Anthony Edwards, last year’s runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award, is 20 years old. Jaden McDaniels and rookie Leandro Bolmaro are both 21. Looked at as the veteran leaders on the team, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell were just 25 at the start of the season.
In fact, entering the season Minnesota had the third-youngest roster in the NBA.
With that in mind, every Thursday for the rest of the regular season Bally Sports North will feature one young player on the Wolves -- and occasionally with the G League Iowa Wolves -- to see who will rise to the challenge of bringing a consistent, winning team to Minnesota.
This is the 10th edition of the 2021-22 Young Wolves Tracker.
SPOTLIGHT ON …
Forward Jaden McDaniels
Overshadowed, perhaps, by his fellow first-round teammate, Anthony Edwards, perhaps McDaniels’ rookie season was overlooked at times.
The No. 28 overall selection’s numbers might not have stood out at the end of the 2020-21 season, but he averaged a respectable 6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 24.0 minutes. Especially notable was a 15-game stretch from March 26-April 20 when McDaniels averaged 10.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over 30.2 minutes while shooting 50.9% from the field and 43.3% on 3 attempts.
McDaniels, however, encountered the ol’ sophomore slump.
In October, he made just 29.2% of his shots and averaged only 3.2 points per game. In November, he upped his production to 7.1 points while shooting 44.4% from the field and 30.8% from 3. Last month, he hit double figures at 10.7 points per game even though he was still trying to find his shot, making 41.2% of his field-goal attempts and 26.8% from behind the arc.
The flipping of the calendar to 2022 has seen a little more of what was expected from McDaniels this season.
In the Wolves’ three games of the new year, McDaniels averaged 12.0 points while making 15 of 28 shots (53.6%) and half of his 3 attempts (6 of 12).
It’s all part of a recent roll McDaniels has been on.
In nine games since Dec. 19, McDaniels is averaging 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while making 50.0% of his field-goal attempts. He’s reached double figures in points in eight of those contests, twice reaching 18, including in Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
McDaniels took advantage of a bad situation – multiple Minnesota players out due to health and safety protocols. The return to the lineup of Jarred Vanderbilt, in particular, has taken away some of McDaniels’ minutes.
But as he’s shown over the past week-plus, any time McDaniels can get on the court is now a productive stretch. Just like we all thought would happen entering the 2021-22 season.
-- Karl-Anthony Towns returned after missing six games due to health and safety protocols and, despite him saying he lost 15 pounds while out, all he did was put up 17 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma City. It marked Towns’ 16th double-double of the season and 309th of his career.
-- Anthony Edwards averaged 23.5 points on 47.3% shooting in four games last week, both figures upping his season averages. Edwards has reached double digits in points in 19 consecutive games.
-- Taurean Prince has his best game in a Minnesota uniform in the win over the Clippers, recording 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He had reached double figures just one other time this season – 13 in just 14 minutes in a blowout win over San Antonio on Nov. 18.
-- Malik Beasley’s streak of having 3+ 3-pointers ended at nine games Wednesday. It’s the third-longest such streak this season behind just Golden State’s Steph Curry, who has done it in 17 straight and 14 straight.