- Averaging 22.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game
- Shooting 49.6 percent on field goals and 37.9 percent on 3-point attempts
Like most other Timberwolves players, Karl-Anthony Towns had an inauspicious start to the 2018-19 campaign. Even after the Butler trade, Towns was turning in mostly pedestrian performances and the Wolves were wallowing near the .500 mark.
While the Wolves’ record still sits at just 21-22, Towns has been a monster since Christmas. Over the past three-plus weeks, Towns has averaged 27.5 points, 16.6 rebounds, four assists, and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting at a .537/.378/.769 clip.
Beyond the numbers, which aren’t all that far off of a couple of other stretches in Towns’ still-young career, the biggest change has been on defense. Towns has been not only engaged on the defensive end of the floor over the last month, but has been genuinely effective.
Look no further than Saturday’s dominance over Anthony Davis in the pivotal moments of the Wolves’ victory over the Pelicans for an example of his want-to and legitimate defensive prowess.
Towns undoubtedly understands that this is now his team and his team alone; he’s the only superstar on the squad and the Wolves’ playoff hopes rest on his shoulders.
This seems to be the perfect storm of his otherworldly offensive skills that have always existed but are becoming more refined, plus an uptick in understanding on defense (put differently, things appear to finally be ‘clicking’ from a scheme and spacing perspective) and a massive increase in want-to and overall desire. Put together, all of this means that Wolves fans have a superstar on their hands.
There is surely an element of The Ryan Saunders Effect in there somewhere, and it will be fascinating to see where things go for Towns as we’re still just three games into Saunders’ tenure as interim head coach.
While the early stages of Towns’ season were sub-par, the past few weeks have been fantastic, and that’s enough to give him a solid first-half grade.
But will it be enough to get him to Charlotte for the All-Star Game?
We’ll be back at the end of the season to do second-half and full-season grades as well. Here’s hoping that those grades are in the wake of a great second half of the season and a serious run at the playoffs…