Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 players who have earned more playing time

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jordan McLaughlin
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 10: Jordan McLaughlin #6 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Jordan McLaughlin

Entering the season, Jordan McLaughlin was a relative unknown to all but die-hard USC fans and draft experts. As the season progressed, however, McLaughlin quietly proved to be a particularly useful backup point guard.

The role McLaughlin filled this season was like that of Tyus Jones in the past. To look at a McLaughlin stat-line and be wowed is a rarity, but he does a great job of executing the little things that lead to winning basketball.

McLaughlin’s excellent qualities on offense are that he takes care of the ball and is an efficient scorer — two things you want from your backup point guard.

According to NBA Stats, McLaughlin’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.03 ranked sixth in the league among players who averaged over 10 minutes per game.

This number doesn’t inherently suggest that McLaughlin is a world-class passer, but it does represent McLaughlin’s overall ball security, tendency to make the right play, and talent in finding the open scorer.

Below, we can see how McLaughlin does an excellent job of navigating the pick-and-roll. McLaughlin receives the dribble handoff from Jarrett Culver and goes straight into a screen from James Johnson. The first option is for McLaughlin to slip a quick pocket pass to the rolling Johnson. Based on Mason Plumlee’s depth (or lack thereof), Johnson would likely have an easy layup.

However, McLaughlin notices Jamal Murray rotating over to cut Johnson’s lane off, leaving Culver open in the corner. To get Murray to commit to the rotation entirely, McLaughlin stares down Johnson, uses a slight hesitation, and then fires a live dribble one-handed pass to Culver for an open three.

McLaughlin is also extremely crafty at getting into the lane. By using hesitation moves and change of direction, McLaughlin creates a lot of easy dunks for teammates, as we see below. While running in transition, McLaughlin does an excellent job of killing his initial defender’s momentum by backing into him. This hesitation dribble dispatches his initial defender while momentarily freezing the two defenders in the lane.

This decision creates a small path for McLaughlin to attack. Instead of forcing a bad shot that likely gets blocked, McLaughlin does a great job of getting both defenders to commit to his shot before dumping it off to Reid for an easy dunk.

McLaughlin’s most significant selling point on offense is his ball security and determination to find the open teammate. He is still, however, an efficient scorer when he needs to be. When running the pick-and-roll, he scores .95 points per possession (PPP) (79th percentile); when running in transition, he scores 1.417 PPP (94th percentile); when spotting up, he scores 1.175 PPP (85th percentile), per Synergy.

McLaughlin also ranks in the 98th percentile among point guards in 3-point percentage above the break.

While McLaughlin will never be a go-to scorer, having a backup point guard with his scoring efficiency is extremely valuable.