Minnesota Timberwolves Interview: Jordan McLaughlin on career path, rookie season

Jordan McLaughlin of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Jordan McLaughlin of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jordan McLaughlin
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 10: Jordan McLaughlin #6 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles the ball during the first half against the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Seizing the opportunity

On Jan. 16, the Timberwolves traded Jeff Teague, one of just two true point guards on the roster. McLaughlin was called back up and has played in all 24 games since.

BH: Did you know you would be the team’s new primary backup point guard?

JM: Nah, but I mean as far as true point guards, Shabazz and I were the only true point guards after the trade. I just had to prove and show that I am capable of being a consistent spark off the bench and that I can be a consistent back up point guard in the league.

His play since that day has proved all doubters wrong. In those 24 games, McLaughlin has posted averages of 8.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists per game. These numbers come with shooting splits of 38.1 percent from outside the arc and 60 percent from two.

Two-way players are allowed to spend a maximum of 45 days with the NBA club, including practice days. McLaughlin has played a total of 30 games, which is suggesting that his 45 days are almost used up. What is most impressive about his success is the lack of practice he has had with the rest of the team, but still finding success and chemistry with those around him.

BH: With a limit on days with the Timberwolves, have you been able to practice much?

JM: No, I didn’t practice much with the NBA team, at first it wasn’t bad because I went to training camp with everyone … But even then if you have been in the system and know where people are going to be, then you know what you’re looking for within the offense. And as long as we are communicating on the defensive end, then we will be alright.

BH: Maintaining the same system between the G-League team and the NBA team has to have been important to keep everyone ready. You worked in a similar system in Brooklyn and Long Island last year. Has that helped?

JM: Yes, it was very similar (in Brooklyn). Pretty much the same. Minnesota and Iowa run the exact same thing and have the same terms for everything, so it makes the transition of being a two way player (easier).

McLaughlin’s fit with the Timberwolves

Jordan has played well enough for some to call for the Wolves to offer him a full NBA contract and make him the team’s backup point guard for the future. He plays at an infectious pace and sets the tone of the offense. Defensively, he is quick and scrappy and plays much bigger than he truly is.

With the lack of cap space for the Timberwolves, locking up a quality backup point guard on a team-friendly deal, similar to Naz Reid’s contract, would be important. This would open the door for more financial flexibility in coming years.

BH: You’ve had some impressive dunks this year. Is attacking the rim without fear important to your game?

JM: You got to attack the rim fearlessly. So I just try to do that and I know I have good enough athleticism to play above the rim sometimes, so that what I try to do.

There is no doubt that he is fearless. Not many sub-6-foot players that are willing to rise up against a near-7-footer. It’s clear that Jordan has that confidence in himself.

One way to players become more confident is by seeing their role increased. After becoming a permanent piece over the last 24 games, McLaughlin has seen an increase in performance and efficiency when playing more minutes. In his 30 career games, he has played 20 or more minutes in 12 games and less than 20 minutes in 18 games.

Let’s compare the stats of those games:

  • Games with less than 20 minutes played (15 minutes per game): 5.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 3 assists per game on 35.1 percent from three and 46.2 percent from two.
  • Games with 20 or more minutes played (26 minutes per game): 11.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists per game on 41 percent from three and 66.7 percent from two.

For McLaughlin, an increase in playing time comes an increase in efficiency. This is an encouraging sight.

BH: Do you think those numbers are coincidental or do you feel more confident in an increased role?

JM: Confidence . . . I develop more of a rhythm the (longer) I’m out on the court.

Ryan Saunders has been working on figuring out the backcourt rotation, even playing a lineup with McLaughlin alongside D’Angelo Russell at some times. This may open the door for McLaughlin to consistently get more than 20 minutes per night, which seemingly helps him offensively.

In 44 minutes shared on the floor, McLaughlin and Russell boast an impressive offensive rating of 128.2 and a stellar 99.1 defensive rating, according to NBA.com. Of course, the sample size is quite small, but these numbers suggest that the tandem’s play warrants a larger sample size if and when play resumes.

With an increased role and continued experience at the NBA level, Jordan McLaughlin should continue to prosper. With the remainder of the season in the air, it will be interesting to see how the front office views the point guard.

The team should have the opportunity to sign him to a multi-year deal with the first year guaranteed. A deal like this would allow the team to have financial flexibility, but also stability in the backup lead guard role.

Laying low during the hiatus

With the NBA suspending the season until further notice, players have been told to isolate themselves to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 during the pandemic.

It was reported on March 15 by Shams Charania of The Athletic that the NBA had informed teams that players would be allowed to travel out of their respective markets “with consultation.”

BH: What have you been up to since the news of the season’s suspension?

JM: I was in Minnesota for a little bit. But with how things were going, I decided to come back to California and be with my family. I have been watching film, reading books, and spending time with my family and staying inside as much as possible.

Many fans have been tuning in to Fox Sports North recently to watch replays of some highlighted Timberwolves games and it turns out Jordan has too. Before Tuesday night’s re-airing of the Wolves comeback victory over the Miami Heat on Feb. 26th, he left a message on the Timberwolves official Twitter account.

McLaughlin refers to the late February victory as a “big road win” for the Wolves.


Hopefully, Timberwolves fans can enjoy more wins, both on the road and at home, when the NBA and the Wolves are finally able to get back to business.

Next. 3 things the Wolves must do when the NBA returns. dark

And whenever that happens, you can count on Jordan McLaughlin being a big part of it.