When the Timberwolves acquired Andrew Wiggins, it was a dream come true. Fans were picturing him, along with the Wolves own most-recent lottery pick, Zach LaVine, as one of the top duos of the next five to ten years. The “Bounce Bros”.
Enter Karl-Anthony Towns. After one of the more dreadful years in Wolves history, the coveted college freshman was picked first-overall by the late Flip Saunders and is now starring for the team after just a handful of games. The rookie is averaging 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and an astounding 2.8 blocks per game — a top-ten average in the NBA.
And although Wiggins hasn’t played too well over the team’s first four games, it’s obvious that these two could make an incredible duo for the future. It’s undecided which of the two will be the alpha dog (although there have been premature judgements that Towns is going to be the go-to guy with Wiggins falling into a Scottie Pippen-type role), but they’ll figure that out themselves later on in their careers.
The most interesting question regarding their futures is what they can become together. It’s a tad premature (okay, it’s really early to write this, but someone has to), but, at the end of their respective careers, they could be discussed in the same sentences as some of the greatest duos of all-time — Jordan/Pippen, Shaq/Kobe, and Magic/Kareem. It’s farfetched, maybe, but it is possible that the combination of Wiggins and Towns reach their status.
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Personally, out of those three great duos mentioned, the most accurate comparison would be Shaq/Kobe solely because of positions. Though Wiggins doesn’t have that trademark “Kobe mentality,” at this stage of his career, he’s a young, high-flying wing that has the traits to become a lock-down defender and scorer.
Relating what Towns is now to Shaq looks like a lofty comparison, but they’re both centers that with the capability of overpowering their opponents. KAT hasn’t really shown the brute strength that Big Diesel was known for back in his day, but he will improve in that aspect. Towns has also shown the ability to rebound the ball and score at a high rate, and while not quite as great as Shaq did, there’s obviously reason to speculate that he’ll improve in those areas as well.
If they do reach their respective astronomical potentials, for the Timberwolves, the sky is the limit. However, one problem the franchise could face is retaining both of these future superstars. They’re going to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency — who knows what the cap limit will be in 2020 — and it may be difficult for the Wolves to match or outbid those other desperate teams in the league.
Another potential issue in what looks like a future superstar tandem is having them stay healthy. Neither have really had much of an injury history (knock on wood), but there’s no telling what could happen in the future. We could see Shaq, or we could see Greg Oden. We could see Kobe, or, on the flip side, Brandon Roy. Derrick Rose, Penny Hardaway, Bill Walton… The list is endless, and Timberwolves fans need to hope that their guys don’t find a way to make it on that ominous lists.
If they can stay on the court, then they’ll become a special duo, and everyone knows it. In interviews with the Star Tribune, each spoke very highly of one another. Here’s Towns:
"For us, it wasn’t about being the No. 1 pick, but we both strive to be great. We both want to be the best players we possibly can be and we both want to win championships. I remember having this conversation with him weeks ago, about us winning a championship and how me and him are going to do it."
Their bond with each other will also prove to be a big factor in the upcoming years. For instance, a lack of a true bond between Kobe and Shaq led to their eventual demise.
Wiggins and Towns must have balance between them, and must keep their egos in check. Being on the rise, it’s easy to get a big head with all of the success in the early goings. But as we’ve heard time and time again, the NBA is a marathon, not a sprint, and the long hall is definitely more important that one short year.
Wiggins and Towns both have bright futures ahead of them, and the possibilities with them in Timberwolves uniforms are endless. Wolves fans should be eager for the future, because once it rolls around, it’ll be a fun time to be a Minnesota basketball fan.