When Jaden McDaniels was in the starting lineup, he was spending more time on the bench than he was on the floor thanks to foul trouble.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch decided to change things up and started McDaniels on the bench for the past five games.
Now McDaniels is spending more time off the bench than on it.
The second-year forward had one of his best games of the season Thursday night in the Wolves' 115-90 victory over San Antonio. McDaniels was part of a strong bench effort with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting with one of his misses being a half-court heave at the end of a quarter.
When asked why he thought McDaniels was playing better of late, Finch it was because of "moving to the second unit."
"Little bit more opportunities out there," Finch said. "The ball has also been moving better. Just staying out of foul trouble, staying in the game has been one of the things that's been hard for him. He's been in a lot of foul trouble, so he's never been able to get into a rhythm. He's way more sure of the things he's been doing."
McDaniels looked sure of himself offensively Thursday. In watching the plays he scored, McDaniels took to the ball with confidence to the rim on two of his makes, cleaned up one bucket in transition, played off his teammates to roll or cut to the rim for open shots near the hoop on two makes and sank an in-rhythm three on the other.
"To be fair to Jaden, he's a far better player than he'd played in the beginning of the season," Finch said. "I don't think it was necessarily a reflection of him or his preparations coming into the season. I know the work he put into it over the summer. He had a pretty good preseason for us. I just think it was some guys are a victim of when your team doesn't have a good rhythm."
The offense had a good rhythm Thursday with Malik Beasley scoring 15 points and Taurean Prince also chipping in 13.
Finch mentioned one thing McDaniels did well toward the end of last season was cut off Towns, something he was doing Thursday night. He also said McDaniels has been a very good "glue guy" for what the Wolves are trying to do offensively.
"One of the things we love about him is he can play really well without the ball in his hands, and then he can make a shot or cut or space the floor really well," Finch said. "He could probably find people or make plays a little bit more, but those are things that will come to him as he grows and as our team develops."
It helps that McDaniels has been able to stay out of foul trouble. By playing on the second unit he is spending less time guarding an opponent's best players, which has helped keep him on the floor. Two of McDaniels' more frustrating games came at home against the Clippers and Paul George, when he had to sit early in each. McDaniels fouled out of three games while he was in the starting lineup. He hasn't fouled out of any since the move to the bench despite playing over 30 minutes in three of those five matchups.
McDaniels may not be starting now, but he has been able to contribute more since leaving the starting lineup than he was while in it.