On the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns’ startling efficiency


Through 31 games, the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns is the clear front-runner to win the Rookie of the Year award come spring.

The halfway mark of the season won’t come for another few weeks, but Towns’ consistency combined with a slump from the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis and a combination of off-court issues, a nagging injury, and inefficiency from the 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor has allowed the stock of the number-one overall selection to continue to rise steadily.

And while the per-game and counting stats are indeed impressive (15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game), the versatility and efficiency with which Towns has scored has perhaps been the most jarring development. The recently-turned 20 year-old is already an exceedingly effective offensive weapon — and that’s not even factoring in his work on the glass and prowess on the defensive end of the floor.

We’ll focus on his offensive game today, and it isn’t hard to see exactly why he’s already such an outstanding weapon.

For starters, let’s take a look at his basic zones shot cart.

Let’s ignore the pesky red zone in the left corner — it’s an 0-for-1 on threes from that location — and bask in the glory of the greeny goodness of everything else on this shot chart.

Starting underneath the basket, you’ll see that Towns is attempting 35.7 percent of his shots from beneath and around the rim, and he’s connecting on a whopping 65.9 percent of those attempts. The league average is just 59.4 percent.

Beyond that, Towns also blows away the league-average percentages in the paint by 7.5 percent and between the lane and the arc by 8.7 percent. He’s even besting the average above-the-break three-point percentage at 38.5 percent thus far — not a ton of attempts, but still impressive.

More from Dunking with Wolves

We talk often at Dunking With Wolves about the inefficiency of mid-range two-point shots. And while that’s a reality in many circumstances, a wide-open mid-range jumper for certain players can actually be a very good shot. Exhibit A: Karl-Anthony Towns.

Using the same mid-range classification as above (outside the paint but inside the arc), Towns’ mark of 48.1 percent is tied for fifth-best in the NBA for players who have attempted over 100 shots from that area of the floor, trailing only the Knicks’ Arron Afflalo (56.3 percent), Kevin Durant (50), Tony Parker (49.6), Portland’s Allen Crabbe (48.7) and tied with the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol.

(Interestingly enough, of the 63 players that qualify with over 100 attempts, the Timberwolves’ Kevin Martin is last at 28.7 percent and Andrew Wiggins is way down at 58th with just a 33.9 percent mark. Also, Zach LaVine is 56th while shooting just 34.8 percent from mid-range to this point.)

And if that wasn’t enough, Towns is a premier free throw shooter, and not just for a big man. He’s shooting 86 percent from the charity stripe, and while he’s only attempting three free-bees per game with a free throw rate of just .246, it’s enough to bump his true shooting percentage to a fantastic .590 — best for any Wolves player who has played in at least half the team’s games.

Next: Kevin Martin to be traded?

We’ll look at his defensive prowess another day, but what we’re witnessing from a shooting efficiency perspective from Karl-Anthony Towns is nearly unheard of. Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy it.