Jordan McLaughlin: Timberwolves point guard of the moment

With an established star and several young talents to build around, the Minnesota Timberwolves are attempting to establish themselves as a playoff contender once again.

From established players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to newcomers like Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, we’re taking a weekly look at the present, and future, of the Wolves.

Each Thursday we’ll also track the progress of the Iowa Wolves standouts who might be of help to the Wolves in the future, or a current member of Minnesota’s roster.

This is the 13th edition of the 2019-20 Young Wolves Tracker.

Spotlight on …

Guard Jordan McLaughlin

A lot has happened since we ran our last Young Wolves Tracker seven days ago.

Minnesota played a key part in a massive 12-player, four-team blockbuster trade earlier this week that was highlighted two notable names on the move — Robert Covington to Houston and standout center Clint Capela to Atlanta.

More Timberwolves coverage

When it was all said and done, the Timberwolves had packaged Covington and Jordan Bell to Houston and Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop and Noah Vonleh to Denver.

It continued an effort to aggressively reshape the roster for president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, who began the process Jan. 16 by sending Jeff Teague back to Atlanta in a trade.

Now that Napier and Teague are out of town and none of the four players Minnesota received — Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner and Jarred Vanderbilt – are primary 1s, the rookie McLaughlin remains the only true point guard on the roster.

In a season that’s featured an 11-game losing streak and Minnesota’s current slump of 13 games (and counting), McLaughlin has been a rare bright spot.

The USC product has flashed his ability to produce in bunches — like his career-best 19-point outburst against Golden State on Dec. 23 and again Wednesday night vs. Atlanta with 15 points and career-high seven assists in 31 minutes off the bench.

At 5-foot-11, McLaughlin has shown he’s not afraid to mess with the trees. He constantly drives to the basket — 43.2% of his field-goal attempts are on layups, floaters and dunks within four feet of the hoop.

The guard also went viral in late January for his dunk over Capela, the 6-10 center that ranks seventh in the league in blocks per game (1.8). Sheesh.

Now, we must note that McLaughlin is a two-way player for Minnesota. That means he splits time between the G League and the NBA and can spend no more than 45 days with the Timberwolves before the team would have to give him a contract. That’s something to monitor going forward.

WOLF TRACKS

— Josh Okogie put together a nice night Wednesday against Atlanta, scoring a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. In 122 career games, the former first-round pick has four contests with 20+ points.

— Rookie center Naz Reid played 13 minutes against the Hawks — three more than veteran Gorgui Dieng — and tallied 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He nailed two attempts from deep for his fifth game with multiple 3-point makes.