A few days removed from making their 2021 NBA Summer League debut, the Minnesota Timberwolves were back in action Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Bulls. I’ve said this countless times over the years while covering this team, but if you missed today’s matinee performance, boy oh boy did you not miss much.
WOLVES WIN!!!— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 12, 2021
Alright, that might have been a bit harsh — yes, the Wolves did put on a summer version of a defensive clinic, holding their Thursday opponent to just 59 points on 25% shooting, en route to their second-straight victory of the week.
Minnesota was led once again by the human block button himself Jaden McDaniels, who paced the Wolves with a team-high 15 points (6-of-13 shooting) as well as 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The second-year player out of the University of Washington continues to be “let loose” on the offensive end, resulting in plays like this that we did not see during his rookie season:
Jaden McDaniels has an awesome block and 8 early points on 3/4 shooting. He’s looking confident and like the best player on the court. pic.twitter.com/iCRl5cCOiF— Cooper (@CoopCarlson) August 12, 2021
And then there was this nifty play against another promising second-year player, Patrick Williams:
Williams was the lone bright spot for the Bulls on Thursday, tallying 18 points (6-of-15 shooting) as well as grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
But back to Jaden for a minute — throughout his first two Summer League games, it’s been very evident that he’s been putting in significant time working on his game this offseason, and the results are already beginning to show. His handle isn’t exactly on par with Kyrie Irving, but you can see him trying to utilize the dribble more and more to create open shots for not only himself but also his teammates. The matchup today against Patrick Williams was a good barometer of where both players are right now entering their second season, and while both kids are oozing with potential, it’s a big “W” for Minnesota that the guy they got just so happened to come 24 picks later than Williams in the 2020 NBA Draft.
As for the rest of the Summer Wolves, their Thursday performance left a lot more to be desired than their game on Monday. Jaylen Nowell had a few nice moments, but finished with just 14 points on 14 shots. Nathan Knight, OUR NATHAN KNIGHT, had a much quieter Game #2, finishing with just 13 points and 4 rebounds (he did however collect his second-straight technical foul, which might already be a Summer League record).
Outside of The Summer Big Three (McDaniels, Nowell, and Knight), no other Wolves player really popped off the screen on Thursday, which may mean something or it may mean nothing (it should be noted that the game tipped off at 1:00pm PST, which is a brutal time for basketball in general, and that’s before you add in the whole “Las Vegas” factor).
The only other item worth mentioning from this game was that it was the first time I personally have seen Omari Spellman play basketball in a while, and while he did set some Hulk-like screens on offense, I’m not exactly sure he flashed enough potential to stick on a NBA roster once the regular season starts. The former 30th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has had a tough run of it so far in the big leagues, but here’s to hoping he can change a few people’s minds as Summer League moves forward.