DENVER -- One positive that emerged for the Timberwolves' 128-116 loss to Denver was the continued development of some of their G-League two-way players from Iowa like Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin.
Martin was having his way in the first half on the offensive end of the floor and had a career high 19 points by halftime. He finished with 21.
“It felt good,” Martin said. “Just going out there, playing free. Just playing free. Just playing my game the same way I play in the G-League. That's what they told me -- just shoot the ball, do what I do."
McLaughlin looks more and more like an NBA point guard with each opportunity he gets at this level. He had 15 points and 10 assists on Sunday.
“We’re just having fun,” McLaughlin said. “Not a lot of people get the opportunity that we get to play basketball for a living. Basketball has taken care of a lot of people's lives. When you get this opportunity, you want to go out there and have fun, be aggressive.”
Both took that to heart on Sunday. Their future with the team is up in the air past this season since they are on two-way deals, but both have been making the case to get permanent NBA deals. Perhaps that hunger to prove themselves is contributing to their play.
“You’re able to see it. It’s very noticeable,” said their frequent Iowa teammate Naz Reid. “They want to be noticed and they’re putting their foot on people’s necks as people say. I just want them to keep doing the things they’re doing.”
With the Wolves in full-on evaluation mode, they should get the opportunity to prove themselves more over the next two months, so long as they don’t go over their 45 allotted days with the NBA squad.
“It’s a different set of travel circumstances, games, a lot of things [in Iowa],” coach Ryan Saunders said. “When you get around the NBA club, I know those guys appreciate being here, playing in these games and competing and so they come in with a great mindset, great attitude and great intensity and it does rub off on the group.”