Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Wolves, Whiteside, Favors

After riding the pine for the first three quarters of an eventual 96-89 Timberwolves victory over the Pelicans on Sunday, reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin made sure to maximize his minutes when his number was called during the game’s fourth quarter, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.

“We all have our job to do and mine is to be ready at all times,” McLaughlin said. “So, I’m just going in there, trying to change the game, pick up full court, be a pest on defense and push the pace on offense and make plays.”

A 5’11” point guard out of USC, the 25-year-old McLaughlin re-signed with Minnesota over the summer on a three-year, $6.5MM deal, with a team option for the final season. Hine notes that head coach Chris Finch had stuck with a 10-man rotation before ultimately turning to McLaughlin in a successful strategic maneuver to close out New Orleans. McLaughin’s solid offensive contributions in a win for the 2-1 Timberwolves could certainly earn him future rotation time.

In 12 minutes on Sunday, McLaughlin netted a +5 plus-minus rating, to go along with six points on two-of-three shooting, two steals, two boards and an assist. During the Timberwolves’ Monday rematch against the Pelicans on Monday, however, McLaughlin was less successful. In 11 minutes during the 107-98 loss, McLaughlin scored no points and registered a -10 plus-minus rating, though he did chip in three assists and a rebound.

“We have literally 15 guys on the roster that can play at a high level, night in and night out,” McLaughlin said. “We have a really deep team, and every night we’ve got to bring it, withstand the punches and just keep rolling with them and try to overcome it at the end.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Following their aforementioned 107-98 Monday defeat to the Pelicans, the Timberwolves held an intense practice, focused on emphasizing passing and looking for open teammates, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune“The person that’s open gets the ball,” shooting guard Josh Okogie commented. “Obviously, we have [D’Angelo Russell] and [Karl-Anthony Towns], and those guys are the stars on our team, and those guys get, obviously, more leniency on the shots they do take because they’ve proved that they can make those shots. But in the normal flow of the offense, I feel like whether it’s me, Malik [Beasley], Taurean [Prince], Jaden [McDaniels], whoever it is … If the person is open, I feel like they should get the ball.” Minnesota head coach Chris Finch confirmed the intensity of the practice following the loss. “It was a little testy,” Finch said. “A lot of the guys talking about what could have been done better or different. … I’d rather have that than guys in there who don’t care and not say anything, they’re not bothered. Then winning doesn’t mean enough to you.”
  • New Jazz reserve center Hassan Whiteside seems to be taking to his new fit on a playoff-caliber roster behind All-Star center Rudy Gobert quite well, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones notes that the Jazz have outscored opponents by 20 points during the time Whiteside has logged on the floor in Gobert’s stead during the young season. “This is why they brought me here,” the 32-year-old seven-footer out of Marshall said. “I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed here, so I had to prepare myself for how the Jazz liked to play. They like to have a rolling big. They want to have the shot-blocking. They’ve been really successful at it in the past, so I know how they like to play. I just have to put myself in a position to be successful.” Through two games as of this writing, Whiteside is averaging 7.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 1.5 BPG in just 17.0 MPG.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault intends to rest veteran center Derrick Favors during one game of their back-to-back sets, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link). Daigneault noted that this strategy was agreed upon by both Oklahoma City and Favors. The 6’9″ 30-year-old out of Georgia Tech has started two of his three contests with the Thunder thus far, averaging 4.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG across 16.3 MPG.