Although Karl-Anthony Towns has proven to be a offensive load thus far as a professional. He has also shown that big strong centers can affect how he plays.
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best young players in the entire NBA, and his offensive repertoire is unmatched.
The 2016-17 Rookie of the Year has established himself as a versatile big man. In his first two-plus seasons, Towns has proven that he is one of the best offensive big men in the league. Towns burst onto the NBA scene, averaging 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game as a rookie. Last season, he continued to improve and upped his scoring to 25.1 per game and his rebounding to 12.3 per contest.
KAT has a unique skill set as a seven-footer. Since he grew up playing guard, he has developed skills that most seven-footers don’t have. He has shown the ability to shoot the ball from 3-point land. Towns is a 36 percent 3-point shooter for his career. This percentage makes him one of the Wolves’ more consistent threat from behind the arc. KAT has also shown his ability to handle the basketball in the half court, as well as on the fast break. A number of times last season there were times that he would snatch the rebound and take off down the floor. In addition to these skills, Towns is extremely efficient with his back to the basket.
In a poll conducted by NBA.com, Towns was the most common pick for general managers to hypothetically start building their franchise around. The voting was not even close; Towns received 48.3 percent of the votes, in front of Kevin Durant (20.7 percent) and LeBron James (17.2 percent). The biggest reason for GMs picking Towns is his young age and upside. Although he is a generational talent on offense, the same cannot be said about his defense.
Coming into the NBA, KAT was known as a well polished scorer and rebounder. In his first year, he struggled big time on defense. According to ESPN.com, Towns had the ninth-worst Defense Real Plus Minus (DRPM) rating in the entire NBA at -0.22. While this was not a good sign, it was not the end of the world because most rookies tend to struggle on defense, especially big men.
The most concerning thing is that last season his DRPM got even worse. He ranked dead last in the NBA among centers with a -1.41 rating. After a year in the NBA, the hope would be that Towns would start to get used the physical nature and start to improve, but the opposite happens to be true. KAT’s offensive skills tend to overshadow his defensive deficiencies. In order for Towns to help the Timberwolves over the hump, he will need to step his play up on defense.
Physical play tends to disrupt Towns
One of the few times that Towns struggles is against strong and physical big men.
In the Wolves’ recent game against the Charlotte Hornets, Dwight Howard set the tone of the game and was very aggressive. Of course, this is not the Dwight Howard in Orlando that was a dominant force game in and game out, but he nonetheless bullied Towns early in the shot clock. Once the Hornets got the ball, Howard made a beeline for the rim and placed Towns directly under the basket. It is nearly impossible to play defense when the player is pinned that deep in the paint. Howard finished the night with 25 points on 8-for-10 shooting and also added 20 rebounds.
The game before the Charlotte tilt, Minnesota took on a team with another big physical center, Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons. KAT struggled once again with the big body. Drummond, like Howard, pushed around Towns and dominated the game. The Pistons big man finished the game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, and an amazing nine of his rebounds came on the offensive boards.
The nine offensive rebounds is concerning for Towns and the Wolves. It is tough enough to stop an NBA team one time, but give them two chances to score and the odds they will score will skyrocket. The responsibility of keeping Drummond off the backboard falls on the man guarding him. During this game, that burden fell on Towns for the majority of the night. Now this may not be an easy task, but
In theory, Towns should be able to take these bigger players away from the basket and knock down jumpers or take them off the bounce. This has simply not been the case, and it seems like he lets the physical play affect his offense.