X-Factor: McDaniels is key to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ playoff hopes

Jaden McDaniels (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Jaden McDaniels (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /
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Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jaden McDaniels (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

Jaden McDaniels will help the Minnesota Timberwolves improve defensively.

Now that Gobert is roaming the paint, McDaniels does not have to keep players in front of him at all costs anymore because he can trust Gobert to clean up any loose shot attempts.

Without that pressure, McDaniels has the potential to be a lockdown on-ball defender. In last season’s playoffs, he held his own against Ja Morant better than expected and stifled Desmond Bane’s offense almost completely. In Game 1 of the playoff series against Memphis, McDaniels recorded three blocks against the duo.

While the on-ball defense is probably the biggest asset McDaniels has to offer the Timberwolves this season after they lost some good perimeter defenders in the Gobert trade, he is also a great weakside defender. McDaniels is very advanced for his young age and is turning pre-rotation into a form of art, which allows him to take away players’ cuts and roll actions.

With him and Gobert combining their defensive forces, patrolling both the perimeter and the paint, opposing teams will struggle to get to the basket. Furthermore, this pairing frees up Karl-Anthony Towns to work his magic on offense, and it takes some pressure off of Edwards to become a better defender in the blink of an eye.