Karl-Anthony Towns: Timberwolves 2015-16 Player Preview


This is the eighth piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual player on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster heading into the 2015-16 season. See the links at the bottom of this page for previous players previewed.

For me, when the Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA Draft Lottery this past April, it was almost as if I won the actual lottery. My favorite NBA team was in position draft Karl-Anthony Towns.

As a freshman at Kentucky, he could do it all. A seven-foot, 250-pound big man, Towns was a force on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor for John Calipari’s Wildcats. In 21 minutes per game, Towns averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 56.6% from the floor.

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Another impressive attribute that Towns possesses is his maturity at the raw age of 19. Throughout the entire draft process, he displayed professionalism that’s very unusual for a teenager. Combine this with his sky-high basketball I.Q., and it’s easy to get excited about his future.

What should we expect from Towns as a rookie? What kind of role will he fill for the Wolves?


The Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, which is one reason why drafting Towns made so much sense. Although he’s just a rookie, Towns will make an instant positive impact for the Wolves on the defensive end of the floor.

First of all, Towns established himself as one of the best rim protectors in college basketball last season. If you need proof, here’s a statistic: Towns averaged four blocks per 40 minutes played in his only season at Kentucky. That’s some elite shot blocking. If he can carry just some of that into the NBA, he’ll be an force in the paint defensively, something the Wolves desperately need.

Here’s one of my favorite blocks from Towns’ short tenure at Kentucky.

Additionally, Towns has proven to be a solid defender against the pick-and-roll, which is a staple in many NBA offenses. This is another area where the Wolves struggled mightily last season, both from their guards and the big men. Towns’ athleticism and mobility should allow his ability to defend the pick-and-roll to the NBA, and this should also make a huge impact on the Wolves’ defensive efforts.


Offensively, Towns will bring a versatility from the center or power forward position that will be useful for the Timberwolves. There’s no questioning his ability to score in the post, especially finishing with a short jump hook and finishing through contact. He showed both of these abilities night in and night out at Kentucky.

However, there’s more to Towns’ game than what may have been featured on a nightly basis at Kentucky. He possesses a smooth outside jump shot, both from mid-range and from the three-point arc. This allows Towns to be able to play the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop game offensively, and that versatility can create a lot of opportunities not just for himself, but for his teammates as well.

Another underrated skill Towns has is his passing ability. My first real look at Towns’ passing ability was in Summer League, where he really thrived at passing out of double teams and finding teammates slashing to the basket.

This was a pleasant surprise for me, as I hadn’t seen nor heard much of his passing ability at Kentucky. If he can take that court vision to the regular season, it will be yet another attribute that will help him make an immediate impact for this team.


In his rookie season, Towns should be the starting center as long as he’s healthy. This should mean a solid amount of playing time among what has suddenly become a crowded back court.

As far as his exact number of minutes, it’s a little tougher to tell with him than some of the other players. Interim head coach Sam Mitchell seems to believe that playing the young guys plenty of minutes is the best way to develop them, so that could mean more minutes for Towns.

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On the other hand, the Wolves back court does include other players that can make some solid contributions including Gorgui Dieng, Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica, Adreian Payne and, when he returns from his Achilles injury, Nikola Pekovic. How Mitchell distributes the minutes between these players is yet ot be seen, but it should impact Towns’ playing time to some extent.

Overall, I’m expecting Towns to play roughly 30 minutes per game as a rookie. While he’s on the floor, Towns may find himself getting plenty of opportunities to score but his most important function will be protecting the rim on defense. As he develops his game over the years, he may embrace more of a featured scoring role on offense, but I don’t see that happening as a rookie as it did for Andrew Wiggins.

Statistical Outlook

Considering everything Towns brings to the table and the kind of minutes he’ll likely see this season, it seems reasonable to expect Towns to put up numbers that put him in the running for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. I’ll give him the following stat-line:

11 PPG, 7 RPG, 3 APG, 1.5 BPG, 52% FG

If Karl-Anthony Towns could manage a line like that, his rookie season would have to be considered a moderate success. I suppose only time will tell.

I’ll leave you with a video from ESPN’s Sport Science, which featured Karl-Anthony Towns before the NBA Draft.

Other Player Previews:

Andrew Wiggins

Zach LaVine

Gorgui Dieng

Kevin Garnett

Ricky Rubio

Shabazz Muhammad

Kevin Martin

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