Grading all 3 Minnesota Timberwolves picks in the 2020 NBA Draft

Georgia Bulldogs guard Anthony Edwards was the Minnesota Timberwolves' top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs guard Anthony Edwards was the Minnesota Timberwolves' top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jaden McDaniels
Washington Huskies forward Jaden McDaniels was the Minnesota Timberwolves pick at No. 28 in the 2020 NBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Grading Minnesota Timberwolves picks in the 2020 NBA Draft: Jaden McDaniels

After acquiring No. 25 and No. 28 and trading No. 25 and No. 33 to get back up to No. 23 (yes, it was dizzying as it happened and remains somewhat of a blur), the Wolves made their final selection of the night at No. 28.

Several solid prospects remained on the board, including TCU wing Desmond Bane, Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman, Stanford’s Tyrell Terry, and Colorado’s Tyler Bey. Bane and Bey in particular seemed as though they would be solid fits who would plug-and-play into the Wolves’ rotation immediately.

But the Wolves instead went with an upside play in Washington’s Jaden McDaniels, a 6-foot-9 big with a wingspan of nearly seven feet. He profiles as the perfect modern-day 4, with the ability both be a playmaker and a shooter with range, all while guarding multiple positions.

McDaniels, who just turned 20, struggled in a few areas in his lone season with the Huskies. He was a turnover machine, which can be blamed on a combination of a lack of talent around him, his youth, and a somewhat of a lack of feel. At the same time, he ripped off some impressive passes just the same, although it really seemed to be feast or famine.

Weight and strength is also a concern; McDaniels was pushed around by bigger 4s and 5s, and won’t have a chance of guarding anyone his size or larger in the post at the NBA level.

The shooting numbers weren’t stellar, either, with a just-okay line of .405/.339/.763. The shot mechanics are good, but they weren’t consistent enough.

The biggest issue with McDaniels is that he didn’t do much besides shoot. His rebuonding rate was only 10.6 percent and his assist rate of 14.6 percent was dwarfed by his horrendous 20.4 percent turnover rate. It shows a concerning lack of awareness and/or hustle, as the athletic and physical gifts are clearly there.

But this is also the part where it’s important to remember that he was a 19-year-old and the best player on a struggling Power Five team.

Perhaps most intriguing to the Wolves is McDaniel’s potential defensive versatility, as his combination of length and athleticism suggests that he should be highly switchable and able to guard multiple positions. This is probably his ticket to earning more minutes early in his career, as the Wolves don’t need him to do as much damage offensively as he was asked to do at Washington.

Think of McDaniels as a slimmer version of current Timberwolves big man Jarred Vanderbilt with a much higher offensive upside. There’s a place for that type of a player on this team, and if things pan out, he’ll be the absolute perfect fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns.

There’s an argument to be made that the Wolves should have gone with rotation-ready talent here, such as Bane or Tillman. Bey is perhaps even a better fit as a 3/4 hybrid with a lower-usage game that could translate to the Wolves more seamlessly than McDaniels’.

But at No. 28, McDaniels was absolutely worth the modest gamble. If the Wolves get it right, it could be a grand slam. If they didn’t, then they basically used up two late firsts to make this selection.

Not ideal, but not the end of the world for a team that is still in the midst of their latest rebuild.

Draft Grade: B-

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We’ll have more post-draft coverage as we quickly draw closer to free agency this weekend. Keep it tuned to Dunking With Wolves…