NEW YORK — Reading into statistical trends in the preseason can often be a fool's errand, but there was one concern that had bubbled to the surface over the Wolves first two games against the Pelicans and Nuggets: the offense of Jaden McDaniels.
McDaniels projects to be a major part of the starting lineup and rotation this season thanks to his defensive abilities. The Wolves would like to see McDaniels make a leap offensively as well. That's one reason why McDaniels participated in the Summer League in Las Vegas — to help develop his offensive game.
Through the first two games of the preseason, McDaniels was just 1-for-7 combined from the field. That changed Monday against the Clippers when McDaniels found his shot early. He wound up 6-for-8 for 15 points, which included 3-for-4 from three-point range.
"Just taking my time, getting my legs and my shot, getting back in the rhythm of playing," McDaniels said.
In Summer League, McDaniels was one of the primary scoring options, but in the Wolves' lineup he'll have to balance playing with D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, the main engines of the Wolves' attack. McDaniels has to strike a balance between trying to get his shots and finding a rhythm in a game and playing off them. He struck that balance Monday by being a target on the perimeter.
"I'm really kind of just letting the game come to me and knowing which spots I should be in and which times," McDaniels said. "Just knowing what kind of shots are good during the game."
McDaniels set a goal for himself to shoot 40% from three-point range during the season. He was at 36% last season and shot 40% on corner threes.
"I'm kind of feeling a lot more comfortable from last year, knowing to expect different things and knowing which spots to be in before even things happen," McDaniels said.
Reid continuing development
There were times last season coach Chris Finch said he had to find a way to get more minutes for backup center Naz Reid because Reid produced more often than not when the Wolves gave him an opportunity. Finch echoed those thoughts again after Reid had a strong effort in Monday's win over the Clippers. Reid was 6-for-10 for 13 points to go with five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
"We got to find more minutes [for him]," Finch said.
Some of that can come when Reid plays alongside Towns, and while Finch did that more than Ryan Saunders did when Saunders was coach, it's tough to find the right match-ups in which Reid and Towns can take the floor together. Reid is trying his best to force Finch's hand into finding a way to get him on the floor in different situations.
"He's playing really well," Finch said. "Doing all the little things well for us. Not forcing anything. Game is coming easy to him right now. He's finishing at a high level. Some tough angle plays. Rebounding, defensively, I'm very proud of him and he's had a great preseason so far."
No Irving for Nets
The Wolves are playing their final preseason game in Brooklyn, where New York City has a mandate that says anyone entering a public gym must have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.
The Nets announced Tuesday star Kyrie Irving, who has not received the vaccine but would be eligible to play in road games, won't be a part of the team in any capacity because of the mandate as they move forward with the season.
Executive vice president Sachin Gupta said on Sept. 27 all but two Wolves were fully vaccinated, but that those two players were in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.