Jaden McDaniels is a game-changer on defense for the Minnesota Timberwolves
McDaniels’ defense is his calling card. According to Bball-Index, he spends between 20 to 25 percent of his time guarding positions one through foru, making him one of the most versatile defenders in the league.
He stands at 6’9″ with a seven-foot wingspan, but he has exceptional lateral quickness, and he uses his lanky frame to both challenge big men at the rim and envelop smaller guards on the perimeter.
Those characteristics were on display in the first playoff game, where McDaniels had several nice possessions defending Ja Morant and completely locked down Desmond Bane. McDaniels had three blocks against the two of them combined.
Against bigs, McDaniels doesn’t currently have the core strength to be a good post defender, but he’ll rarely be asked to do that on a team with Jarred Vanderbilt, Naz Reid, and Karl Anthony-Towns.
Instead, he can harass small-ball bigs (Jaren Jackson Jr. couldn’t even get a shot off in ten partial possessions with McDaniels guarding him) or act as a roaming safety to provide menacing rim protection (his block rate has been in the top 10 percent of all forwards in both of his seasons).
Defensively, he’s a terror. Offensively, he’s starting to find his game right when he’s needed most.