2. Karl-Anthony Towns’ all-around play
Karl-Anthony Towns is having a solid season to this point, following up his first All-Star appearance last year with 23.1 points, 12 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game.
But since Ryan Saunders took over as coach, Towns appears to be doing a better job with recognizing double and triple-teams and making the correct pass out of the post in those situations. His awareness is improving, and maybe, just maybe, so is his willingness to share the ball.
Not that Towns has ever been a “selfish” player; he hasn’t. But at times his desire to win and prove that he can carry his team to victory has appeared to cloud his on-court judgement.
Towns has improved significantly on defense, and not just because his per-game steals and block numbers have grown — although that certainly helps. He continues to get better at knowing when to jump in and help a teammate on a rotation versus stick with his man.
The main issue this season has been increased foul trouble — his 3.7 personal fouls per game is highest in the league and his own personal worst — although if nothing else it shows that he’s been in the right place at the right time more often and is showing a willingness to complete rotations.
Towns must figure out a way to defend without fouling (as well as not picking up cheap ones at the offensive end of the floor), but if he does that, he could be an elite defender in no time.
Towns started the season struggling a bit from the floor, at least by his standards, but has seen his percentages rebound somewhat of late. While a 50-40-90 season is now out of reach, he has a chance to pull close to even with his shooting numbers from last year.
It will be fun to see whether or not Saunders’ influence on Towns (and the absence of some of the other influences that clearly impacted KAT negatively) will have a lasting effect on the Wolves’ lone All-Star as he closes out the season.