Sunday, October 2, 2022

Chris Finch says Jordan McLaughlin has been one of the Timberwolves’ ‘best players’. numbers agree

Chris Finch says Jordan McLaughlin has been one of the Timberwolves' 'best players'. numbers agree

Jordan McLaughlin touted the Timberwolves’ top plus-minus in a 139-132 win in Houston on Sunday when the reserve point guard was on the floor, with Wolves outsmarting the Rockets by 11 points.

This came despite the fact that McLaughlin played just 13 minutes in the entire game. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch troubled himself by playing the guard so low.

“He deserved to play for more than 13 minutes,” Finch said. “He’s been one of our best players, period.”

This sounds ridiculous. McLaughlin, one of the Timberwolves’ best players? The un-drafted, 5-foot-11 point guard who was on a two-way contract earlier this season?

One in that.

And, clearly, the numbers bear it out. Since February, Wolves (45–34) have been outscoring opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions with McLaughlin on the floor – a number that trails only Malik Beasley among regular rotation players and other team points. Stands head and shoulders between guard, Patrick Beverly and D’Angelo Russell.

“He plays with such great energy. Overall, he is always high energy, the pace is quick, he gets into the paint, he moves the ball quickly, and now he is making shots too,” Finch Said. “And defensively, he’ll defend anyone. He gets his hands on the ball, he fights. They tried him on this road trip post the last few games, and he stole the passes. So, He’s done a lot. He just competes. I just love people who compete all the time.”

Finch does not hide the fact that McLaughlin is his ideal point keeper. He runs the offense the way the coach wants him to. He tries his best at the defensive end. He symbolizes the type of basketball preferred by Finch. Far from purely physical stature, McLaughlin shouldn’t be a good defender. And yet his defensive rating surpasses only Naz Reid in the team since February.

Finch said McLaughlin is a “very smart player” who is always studying scouting reports and knows what the Wolves want to do.

“He’s always been really, really good. He does a great job of navigating the screen, through the finish, under, nailing the position really well,” Finch said. “He’s really good at transitioning. He’s probably done a better job of understanding the tendencies of the people he’s being matched against.

McLaughlin said that his role defensively is “just to be awkward”. He knows that Finch wants him to put pressure on the ball. This guides the Timberwolves’ defense, which aims to make opponents uncomfortable and force turnovers.

Over the past month, McLaughlin has been shooting 59 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point range. He’s hitting the shot, which helps place the floor in the half-court set.

“Just trust your work, be confident and step into the shots and shoot them down,” McLaughlin said. “Nothing has really changed except that I’ve gotten a fluid rotation in the last few games. Developing a good rhythm and flow.”

But McLaughlin aims to reach those half-court sets as little as possible. He pushes the ball better than anyone on Minnesota’s roster. His speed since February 1 was 106.72 possessions per game – more absolute possession than any other Wolves rotation player.

Why? Because that’s what their coaches want.

Nation World News Desk
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