Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels makes the most of Rising Stars Challenge

Jaden McDaniels will be a big part of the Minnesota Timberwolves' Las Vegas Summer League team. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jaden McDaniels will be a big part of the Minnesota Timberwolves' Las Vegas Summer League team. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels showed why they are among the NBA’s best young players in the new-look Rising Stars Tournament.

Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels makes the most of Rising Stars Challenge

Even though Edwards sat out roughly half of the opening game and all of the championship contest, the sophomore guard put his elite athleticism on display.

McDaniels was even better in his game, knocking down multiple shots from the perimeter and attacking the basket with consistency.

McDaniels was aggressive from the jump, making his first shot from 3-point range and giving his team an early lead with a floater on the following possession. The Washington product scored 10 of the first 16 points including another triple and a beautiful euro-step finish around Evan Mobley. He wasn’t quite able to propel Team Payton to a victory as Team Barry walked away with a narrow 50-48 win but McDaniels more than held his own on a relatively big stage.

Most players don’t put significant energy into exhibition games like this, but it seemed important for McDaniels to prove his place.

The 6-foot-9 forward finished with a team-high 12 points and two rebounds, shooting 3-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. He also got a shoutout from All-Star teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, who was sitting courtside alongside former Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine.

Edwards flashed his potential for a short time in the first semifinal before taking a backseat for the rest of the night. Saddiq Bey set-up Edwards for a flashy alley-oop flush on a breakaway to wake up the crowd in the first semifinal game. He scored on the next possession as well, spinning off a close-out and laying in a smooth finger roll.

Team Isiah beat Team Worthy 50-49 as Edwards scored four points in the comeback win. Bey led the team with 16 points.

Edwards didn’t play in the final round but later explained it wasn’t because of his recent ankle sprain. The second-year starter is also hampering a sore left knee but didn’t point to that as the cause either.

There has been speculation Edwards could replace Chris Paul in the All-Star Game on Sunday night due to injury but that’s not confirmed.

Team Isiah got off to a quick start but couldn’t hang on as Team Barry won 25-20 and captured the first-ever Rising Stars Tournament title. Cade Cunningham earned MVP honors after combining for 18 points, a team-high nine assists, and seven rebounds in two games.

The Timberwolves tandem didn’t capture any hardware but Edwards and McDaniels continued to show why the franchise is headed in the right direction.