3 Timberwolves who need to perform this postseason

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks
Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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2. Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels was sitting alongside Reid last year watching the Wolves duke it out in the playoffs, as a frustratingly self-inflicted hand injury caused the defensive stud to miss the series.

In an infamous regular season meeting between the Wolves and New Orleans Pelicans, McDaniels punched a wall while walking through the tunnel which caused a broken right hand. As irregular as that is, It might be surprising to hear that this wasn't the main headline of that game.

All this goes to provide context for last year's playoff outing. This meant the Wolves were without their best perimeter defender who more than likely would have had the assignment of guarding Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Considering Murray averaged 27.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game in the series. Having McDaniels surely would have helped to slow down the now NBA champion. 

The 23-year-old wing is truly an elite defender. He has a defensive rating of 108.7 and allows his opponents to shoot just 43.5 percent from the floor.

When further dissecting analytics, it's tough to find stats that truly display McDaniels’ All-Defensive talent. Rudy Gobert will get most of the credit for the Wolves having the top-rated defense this year, but the young wing's switchability and capacity to stay in front of perimeter players has played a huge role in this season's success. 

So how has McDaniels performed in the postseason? Similar to Reid, McDaniels has only had the opportunity to play in the 2021-22 series against Memphis.

The Washington product had a solid 6-game series, averaging 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 0.7 assists on very efficient 53-50-83 shooting splits. Again, the numbers are far from eye-popping, but this was only his second season as a pro, and his efficiency was far improved compared to his regular season splits of 46-32-80. The numbers may be somewhat misleading, however, as in four of the six games he scored eight points or more, and in three of those games, he scored only four points or less. 

Given the inconsistency we've seen from McDaniels this season on the offensive end, what should we expect from him? Given the construction of this team as it stands, if he can stay out of foul trouble, defend at a high level, and score 12-15 points with relative consistency, I’d say the coaching staff would be more than happy with that type of production.