Start, Bench, Cut: Minnesota Timberwolves small forwards
Start: Jaden McDaniels
The Minnesota Timberwolves have emphasized upgrading defense on the Timberwolves roster ever since hiring President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. Perhaps that is why the Timberwolves have rejected any attempt to pry the talented Jaden McDaniels from this team.
Small forward Jaden McDaniels is a player that every NBA coach would love to have on the team. At 6-foot-9 and 185 pounds, McDaniels has the size to guard all the way up to the tallest NBA centers, and all the way down to the smallest and most agile NBA point guards. That in itself is pretty amazing.
Where McDaniels ices the cake is the level of his defense. He has the ability to frustrate even the most prolific scorers in the NBA. He was in the running for the NBA All-Defense Team last season, and by all accounts should have been awarded the honors. Still, he is entering the fourth and final year of his NBA rookie contract, and expectations are that he will push to put up career-high numbers this season.
Much like his teammate, shooting guard Anthony Edwards, the 22-year-old Timberwolves forward is a rapidly developing NBA player who is flirting with stardom in professional basketball. Not only can he apply smothering defense, but he averaged 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. Those marks should all increase this season.
Perhaps one of the lesser-known talents that McDaniels boasts is his 39.8 percent shooting accuracy from the perimeter. That seals his starting role for the 2023-24 NBA season, without question.