Minnesota Timberwolves basketball is BACK.
Well, Las Vegas Summer League that is. As Kyle mentioned in his Summer League preview, we planned to see a lot of Jaylen Nowell and Jaden McDaniels in these early games. That’s exactly what we got in game 1. Nowell and Big Mac combined for 42 on 16/33 shooting. It was a spirited contest which included a 2nd quarter 17-2 Wolves run on the back of Nowell 3’s and my new favorite Timberwolves big man, Nathan Knight, who capped it off with a big dunk to demolish the right rim.
NATE MY GOODNESS pic.twitter.com/QYrlXuG0hh— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 10, 2021
Despite building a cushiony double-digit lead in the first half, Devin Vassell and Tre Jones eviscerated it in the 2nd half. They each took turns bending the Wolves defense to their wills by going on personal 7-0 and 10-0 runs. The final 10-minute quarter of the game would be vintage summer league ball featuring classic “tough shot making” with multiple lead changes. As a usual attendee of LVSL, I was truly getting FOMO watching this from home as you could feel the buzz in the crowd throughout the entire 4th.
The fate of the game ended on some final key possessions, which I’m going to purposefully leaving out an extremely dangerous clear path foul in which Nate Renfro, who was on the ground, reached out and grabbed Jaden’s shoe by the heel which nearly caused disaster *knocks on wood*. With the game knotted up at 89, all you had to do was take a look on the court to realize: The freaks come out at Knight.
Nathan Knight with the offensive rebound and putback in crunch-time.— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
Knight has been unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/CNbHh1Pp5s
With one shot to tie or win the game, the Wolves backcourt of McKinley Wright and Jaylen Nowell teamed up to deny Tre Jones a clear look and resulted in a wild 3 that never hit the rim.
If you’re you like me and haven’t had enough Nathan Knight content yet? Then you should absolutely read Tyler Metcalf’s great piece on the new savior of the Wolves here.
"Hey Coach it's your first one, huh?"— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 10, 2021
- Again, how great was Nathan Knight? Despite committing a mindboggling 7 fouls (and 1 technical!) in 24 minutes, many of the questionable variety, he was certainly my favorite player to watch tonight. His physical presence was felt in the paint all evening, for better or worse. He posted 19 points, 9 rebounds (5 offensive!), 2 assists, 2 stocks, and even 1 three pointer.
"Watch ya head boyyy!" - @ReneeMontgomery— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 9, 2021
Jaylen Nowell made a smart pass to Nathan Knight on this possession, leading to the pick-and-pop 3 for Knight.— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
Playmaking has clearly been a focus for Jaylen at Summer League.
I’m excited to see what Nowell’s role looks like on the 2021-22 Timberwolves. pic.twitter.com/4mFL6Xw4PT
- Jaden McDaniels was unleashed tonight. He was all over the court, but unlike we’re used to seeing, most notably on offense. Big Mac was an efficient 18 points on 7/13 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, earning my MVP honors. His ballhandling was on display with some beautiful dimes and moves. Behold, the future of the NBA:
Jaden McDaniels live-dribble pass to Jaylen Nowell for the dunk pic.twitter.com/1kLmfljXMS— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
Jaden McDaniels pick-and-roll pass to Nathan Knight on the roll, leading to a foul at the rim pic.twitter.com/ePsantvvyi— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
Jaden McDaniels pulls out the crossover to get open, then hits the pull-up jumper.— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
Some impressive flashes with the pull-up for Jaden tonight. pic.twitter.com/mPzcrjfwkr
- Shoutout to Jaylen Nowell for his confident play. Never shy as a gunslinger, Nowell put up a game-high 20 shot attempts tonight. Although he splashed in 3 three pointers, we got more of the point-Nowell experiment with mixed results. The final stat line of 4 assists and 3 turnovers were pretty accurate of what I saw tonight. Hoping to see him develop more control out there as summer league progresses.
Jaylen Nowell pick-and-roll pass to Nathan Knight for the dunk pic.twitter.com/22skI1yjKD— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 10, 2021
- Everything I expected from McKinley Wright IV, I got tonight. He was a sturdy presence as the 1 guard and rarely made mistakes. Wright’s undersized physique certainly didn’t matchup with what I saw on the court. He made his presence on defense known all
Knightnight, as he swiped 5 steals in his battle with former Minnesota high school rival, Tre Jones. He also finished with 8 points on 4/4 shooting with just 1 turnover. He is certainly the Wolves best option as the 3rd (or 2nd?) PG today.
Just two kids from Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/KYWp5gdPEK— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 10, 2021
- I mentioned earlier that Knight destroyed the right rim? Well, Isaiah Miller evened things out by cramming this one-handed Thor’s hammer of a dunk on the left side rim. The quick fan-favorite finished with just 9 points, 5 rebounds (3 offensive!), and 2 steals, but his energy was infectious all night. His point of attack defending, paired with McKinley Wright, was a sight to behold. I’m not sure Miller will make the final roster as a 6’ guard who doesn’t seem quite capable of truly running point, but he’s extremely exciting and I know I’m rooting for him hard.
ISAIAH— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 10, 2021
- Anthony Edwards. That’s all you need to know.
a lot to unpack here— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) August 10, 2021
see you at Lake Minnetonka, @theantedwards_ pic.twitter.com/BYCpMQdNJp
- Oh, and let me share one of my favorite moments from the evening. This, in my opinion, incapsulates Jaden McDaniels personality.
My dark horse for best moment of the evening: Jaden McDaniels finishing his postgame interview with @McNuttMonica by saying:— Official Nathan Knight Stan Acct (@Y0Leo) August 10, 2021
"Thank you, thank you. Have a good day."
That got a literal "Aw.... reaction" pic.twitter.com/2GjI3Kq3eC
Minnesota takes on the Chicago Bulls on early on Thursday 8/12 at 3:00 CT. The Bulls, who gave up their top 2021 draft pick in the Nikola Vucevic deal, will trot out CH favorites Patrick Williams, Tyler Bey, Ayo Dosunmu, and former Timberwolves great, Omari Spellman.