Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels will miss tonight’s preseason game against the New York Knicks due to a “minor left calf strain,” according to our friend Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. McDaniels also missed the Wolves’ second preseason game in Abu Dhabi as a result of the injury, but it is not related to his contract extension negotiations, per Krawczynski.
I do not get the sense that Jaden McDaniels' contract situation is factoring at all in this timeline. Just a minor injury that cropped up on the Abu Dhabi trip that he is dealing with. Those things happen.— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 14, 2023
He also reported that McDaniels is set to be re-evaluated in a week and a half. That is unfortunate considering the Timberwolves open the season Wednesday, October 25 on the road against the Toronto Raptors, firmly putting McDaniels availability in doubt.
It is a tough break for McDaniels, who enjoyed a stellar third year in the NBA, averaging a career-high 12.1 points per game on 51.7/39.8/73.6 shooting splits, 3.9 rebounds, a career-best 1.9 assists, and 1.9 stocks per game across 30.6 minutes per contest. The Seattle, Washington native’s availability was his best ability during the regular season in 2022-23, as he played in a career-high 79 games before breaking his hand in the season finale and missing the entire postseason.
Hopefully it will be a short absence for the former first-round pick, who has quickly evolved into one of the league’s pre-eminent defensive forces and a pivotal player for a Timberwolves team that relied heavily upon his knack for shutting down opposing stars on the perimeter, making corner 3-pointers and complementary offensive production.
The only silver lining in the situation is that Wolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker is waiting in the wings. Acquired last February in the Mike Conley/D’Angelo Russell trade, Alexander-Walker emerged as a defensive pest and invaluable two-way role player when McDaniels’ injury forced him into a starting role in the Play-In Tournament and Playoffs this past spring. He averaged 8.4 points on 42.9/40.0/66.7 shooting splits, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.8 stocks across 29.6 minutes per game in the Wolves’ first-round series loss to the Denver Nuggets. Expect him to start in McDaniels’ absence.