Growth presented itself to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2022-23 season. Making the playoffs for the second straight year was a big accomplishment, as was seeing the growth of young, core talents such as Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels.
Edwards is obviously the leader and face of the franchise after ascending to All-Star status, but McDaniels proved to be a talent that truly impacts winning and losing for this franchise. He's one of the better all-around defenders in the NBA and McDaniels is quickly becoming a secondary contributor on the offensive end of the court that the team can rely on. This is why the soon-to-be 23-year-old forward is a player Minnesota doesn't want to lose anytime soon.
Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly recently made an appearance on “The Jon Krawczynski Show” podcast and spoke with The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski about how the team wants to keep McDaniels long-term.
“We’d love to get something done. We want Jaden to be here as long as possible,” Connelly stated. “Oftentimes those back-and-forths pick up more as the season gets closer, but fingers crossed. In my experience in Denver and here, we like to reward people who earned it. Jaden is a huge part of what we’re doing now. He’s going to get better and better and better.”
There is no denying that McDaniels has contributed to winning in Minnesota. He's grown as a shooter and scorer every season that he's been with the team, and the young forward proved that he is one of the most versatile defenders in the league. Standing 6'9″ with a 7'0″ wingspan, McDaniels can guard virtually any position and is a threat to disrupt passing lanes off the ball.
As he prepares to enter his fourth NBA season, McDaniels enters a contract year. Yet to agree to a rookie-scale extension with the team, he is trending towards becoming a restricted free agent in 2024.
“We think his best basketball is in front of him,” Connelly continued. “As I told Jaden and his representation, the cool thing about extension talks is they should be overwhelmingly positive. The fact that you want an extension speaks to the team’s excitement about his upside. Very few guys are fortunate to get extensions, so again we’re hopeful we can meet that point where we’re both happy with something moving forward.
“I think he’s going to have a good year and we hope he’s here for a long, long time.”
This past year, McDaniels played in a total of 79 games, averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 51.7 percent from the floor. He received 40 total voting points for the All-Defensive team during the 2022-23 season, the second-most total voting points for a player who did not receive this recognition behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Timberwolves have shown no willingness to move on from McDaniels in recent years despite there being interest in him from rival teams. They obviously want him to be a focal point on their roster for many years to come, but there is still a level of maturity that needs to happen as well.
McDaniels put the T-Wolves in a bad spot entering the postseason last year after he punched a wall and broke his hand in their final regular season game. He ended up missing both play-in tournament games, as well as their entire first-round series versus the Denver Nuggets, who ultimately went on to win the 2023 NBA Finals.
As he prepares for the 2023-24 season, McDaniels' focus is solely on helping his team grow from their 42-40 record from a season ago. The Timberwolves have talent and are heading in the right direction. This is why they would like to extend McDaniels, keeping him alongside their stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Edwards.