Minnesota Timberwolves: There are still silver linings for the future…

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 08: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 08: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – MARCH 06: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

1. Karl-Anthony Towns

Yeah, this one is obvious. He’s an All-Star, he puts up monster numbers … but will he win games?

While some criticisms surrounding Towns are fair, the “empty numbers” diatribe is tired. There’s nothing empty about the three consecutive All-Star-worthy seasons he’s had, and especially not about his performances so far in the 2019 calendar year.

Nobody chides Anthony Davis for empty numbers. Or Giannis Antetokounmpo for 42-win and 44-win teams over the last two years.

For Davis, his team’s breakout never really came. His best two season’s have been 45 wins and 48 last year — just one more than the Wolves. For Giannis, it took until Year Five of his career, his age-24 season.

Towns is in Year Four, and he’s still barely 23 years old. We can argue about supporting casts until we’re blue in the face, but both the Pelicans and Bucks in the above examples have had revolving doors surrounding their stars. The Wolves? Stay tuned.

Here’s the thing: Towns has been a monster on offense for more than just this season.  But he’s also improved drastically this year.

Trending. Karl-Anthony Towns is a man on a mission. light

Towns has refined his passing out of the post, especially when double and triple-teamed this year, and is more willing to attack with his dribble in face-up situations than force tough mid-range jumpers.

More importantly, he’s playing defense, both on his man and in help situations. His uptick in both blocks and steals are representative of that improvement, although they are not indicative of just how far Towns has come on that end of the floor.

Now, Towns’ main issue is foul trouble. The problems he’s had this season are partly due to his increase in aggressiveness on defense, so his foul rate should normalize as he controls his aggression and continues to improve. But he still picks up cheap fouls on offense and allows himself to be affected too much by the officials.

Towns has a shot at matching his career-best marks in rebounds and points per game this year and getting to a shooting line of 50/40/95 (he’s currently at 52.2/40.1/83.3) for a second-straight season, all while only playing 33.2 minutes per game due to foul trouble.

All that to say, Towns is a superstar, and this is the last year we’ll be hearing about “empty numbers”.