Karl-Anthony Towns is already a top-10 player in the NBA

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Karl-Anthony Towns. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Karl-Anthony Towns. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

This month, Karl-Anthony Towns appeared in his first All-Star Game. As we head down the home stretch of the regular season, the third-year big man is making a case for himself as a top-10 player in the league.

During the All-Star brea, Bleacher Report came out with a list of the top-10 NBA players from this season. In that list, determined solely by players z-scores, Karl-Anthony Towns was ranked fifth with a 12.66 z-score.

But even without their list, making the case for Towns being a top-10 player in the league is a reasonable one to make. Hear me out on this one.

Although many will argue that his defense is his biggest flaw (which is true), it is surely improving. He may not be on the same defensive level that other stars in the league might be at this stage in their respective careers, but consider his ESPN defensive real plus-minus as a way that shows improvement.

Yes, he is still ranked 200th in the league with a 0.39 DRPM. However, last season he had a -1.41 DRPM — last among centers and 383rd in the league. All signs point to Towns continuing to grow on defense.

Looking beyond his DRPM, Towns has been all over the floor this season as a rim protector. Although he has shied away from contact at times, he still plays physical overall — especially on the glass. He also has done a much better job guarding out near the perimeter, such as against the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul in January.


Towns also ranks fifth in the league when it comes to rebounding at 12.1 boards per game. Since arriving in the league, Towns has always shown he can be a two-way player.

Everyone knows what Towns brings to the table on offense, and it’s something many other players can’t. He’s a seven-footer who can stroke it from both deep and medium-range.

His inside game is solid between his footwork and light touch on his turnaround shots — not to mention his rim rattling ability.

The below dunk shows his hustle level and how good his nose for the ball is.

Overall, he has a 3.78 ORPM, which is good enough for 12th in the league. Towns is shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range and 54.6 percent from the field.

To put it simply, he is a matchup nightmare.

Towns is also a heck of a passer and ball-handler as a center. He’s not scared to bring the ball up and take it all the way to the hole.

In addition to his versatility, what sticks out the most to me about Towns is how durable he is. In his short career, Towns has not only avoided missing any games, but he’s started every single NBA game in which he’s been on the roster. At this point, that comes out to 226 for 226.

Durable players like Towns are vital to whatever team they are on; the fact he has yet to miss a game shows he isn’t a high-risk injury play, nor someone who opts to sit out.

An area of his game that flies under the radar somewhat is free throws shooting. Towns has improved each year in terms of free throw percentage, and this year he is logging his career high at 85.8 percent. Between his shooting ability from three and the line, it’s safe to say Towns isn’t your prototypical center.

Another important side note: Towns is turning the ball over less than he did his prior two seasons. That’s vital when you think about the teams defensive issue and how important it is for the Wolves to posses the basketball.

Now, let’s look at win shares. Towns is sixth in the league in RPM wins at 9.61. To put it in perspective, LeBron James is one spot ahead of him at 9.65. The win share metric is great for capturing just how valuable an individual player is for a team, and any time a player is one spot below LeBron, you know it’s a good thing.

And that’s what makes a top-10 player. Someone who the team can’t function without. According to Basketball-Reference, he’s also playing at such a high level that his name should be in MVP consideration.

Next: The Timberwolves need the best version of Nemanja Bjelica

Even with his defense being average — for now — Towns is a top-10 player in the league.