Four Players the Minnesota Timberwolves Should Not Trade

Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (3) shoots during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s NBA has been all about supermassive stars burning ever bright in the basketball sky. LeBron James just eclipsed the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in career points. Kyrie Irving‘s saga has continued in a thrilling yet predictable manner. Who cares about all that? Everyone? Yeah, fair enough. Teams DO need elite talent, but today the superstars will have to share the sky with the everyman “Glue guy.”

Four Players the Minnesota Timberwolves Should Not Trade at the Deadline

What is a Glue Guy?

“Glue guys aren’t superstars. They’re not the number one option. They just do things only coaches really appreciate. The stars get the headlines, but glue guys help you get in the winner’s circle. I don’t think you can win without that kind of player.” – Dicky V

Glue guys don’t all look the same, but they all accomplish the same thing: impact the game in quieter ways. They’re not the featured names on SportsCenter’s box score highlights. Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell… they’re always in headlines and discussions. It’s not that they don’t contribute to winning, they do, but the point is there’s more to winning than just splash plays (contrary to what highlight culture subconsciously tells you).

Introducing the Minnesota Timberwolves Glue Crew

Jordan McLaughlin, Kyle Anderson, Jaden McDaniels, and Taurean Prince are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in net rating for the Timberwolves this season.

They each bring helpful traits to push the Wolves to victory.

Jordan McLaughlin

McLaughlin has been around long enough to escape the usual role-player treatment. Coaches and fans alike have showered Jordan McLaughlin with praise. His energy, poise, and mistake-free game fit on any roster, especially the Timberwolves. He’s able to stifle ball handlers at the point of attack, peskily grabbing 2.1 steals per 36 minutes in his career. He rarely turns the ball over; remember when he converted 58 assists before committing a single turnover?

Kyle Anderson

A breakout season in 2020-21 put Kyle Anderson on the official “Remarkable Role Player” list. He averaged 12-6-4 on 54 percent eFG%, but his impact is heavier when watching games. Though Slow-Mo (or SloMo, Wolves Twitter is still debating this) is challenged velocity-wise, every dribble he takes is a strong and effective one. You see, he’s not slow like a tortoise; he’s slow like honey. He flows from place to place, not crawls. He’s been a zone beater from the top of the key, a big-man stunter in the paint to allow Rudy to be on patrol duty, and a cashable three points on a ball swing.

Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels may soon graduate from Glue-cademy should he make an All-Defense roster. Nevertheless, he’s in this article, and he’s considered a role player for today.

To combat the especially popular pick-and-role, you need a skilled on-ball defender. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the big man with an abundance of switches or hedges. McDaniels does an extraordinary job navigating ball screens to either stay with his man, cover the rolling big shortly, or be in the right position/angle to disrupt passing lanes. Here’s a visualization from B-Ball index that speaks to McDaniels’ talents:

Taurean Prince

Prince is more of a knight in the NBA world, but he’s a darn good one. After the highs and lows of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s career, he’s found a home in Denver and is a respected role player. Ask Nikola Jokic and Denver fans. It’s noteworthy then that CraftedNBA says Caldwell-Pope is the player most similar to Prince. How so, and how are they considered good players in their roles? They can hit shots, knock passes away, and don’t destruct the team (portability stat used for that last analysis). More specifically, they take open shots, defend multiple positions (arguably the most sought-after trait in players today), and disrupt the opposing offense.

Disaster in Denver

The Minnesota Timberwolves got destroyed in Denver on Tuesday, there’s no other way to put it. They committed three turnovers in the first two minutes. Occurring on lobs to Gobert and McDaniels and a fast break, the passes were rushed and out of rhythm. Neither McLaughlin, Prince, nor Anderson were on the floor during that early rush, and it’s not a coincidence. Certain players initiate fast breaks better and have the experience and feel to make split decisions on passes. Jokic has mastered the art of the outlet pass.

Speaking of Jokic, he was a problem in the paint for Minnesota. Not having a stalwart in Anderson showed as Naz Reid struggled to contain him, much like everyone else on the Wolves roster. Events may have played out differently had Anderson been there to bother the Nuggets center.

A fully healthy team with all of Anderson, Prince, McLaughlin, and Towns to go along with McDaniels, Edwards, Russell (Shams? Woj?), Reid, and Gobert could be capable of imposing cataclysmic damage to other teams whenever that day comes.