Minnesota Timberwolves: A case for Towns as best big man in the league

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 1: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 1: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves might have the best big man in the NBA — at least according to The Ringer’s Danny Chau.

A certain Minnesota Timberwolves big man was the focal point of an article on The Ringer during this past week.

Danny Chau of The Ringer participated in the “Are we sure…” series at his website and was tasked with a write-up on Karl-Anthony Towns. The question posed: “Are we sure … Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t the best big man in the NBA?”

As someone who watches and covers the Wolves closely, my quick reaction is a simple “no”. But the argument isn’t crazy. And Chau does a good job making it.

The debate centers on Towns’ unique offensive game and the variety of ways in which he can score, plus his improvement on the defensive end of the floor and as a facilitator.

From the article:

"…Towns’s five-year, $158 million max extension has kicked in and will take him through his age-27 season, the same season Garnett made his first conference final and the year Dirk made his first NBA Finals. For now, youth is still on KAT’s side. And maybe it’s time then, as he enters Year 5 of his career, to start celebrating Towns for what he is rather than what he isn’t."

That’s a fair way to look at Towns’s career — while it’s disappointing that Towns has only made the playoffs once and never as the best player on his team, there is plenty of precedent for lack of team success early in a superstar big man’s career.

Anthony Davis only made the playoffs twice in his first seven years in New Orleans and didn’t get out of the first round until his sixth year in the league. Chau mentions Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki in the above excerpt.

Chau goes on to acknowledge the the other star big men that could attempt to lay claim to the title of best big man.

"Nikola Jokic is a better passer but even at his most assertive won’t take over a game on offense the same way KAT can; Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis all have rightful claims at being better two-way players, but none can shoot nearly as well from distance, which might be just as meaningful to the way teams game-plan around a star."

No matter how you slice it, the above-mentioned guys plus KAT are likely the five best big men in the league today. Depending on your preference in style of play, you can’t go wrong with any of those guys.

Towns’s versatility on the offensive end of the floor and ability to knock down 3-pointers is superior to the other four players mentioned, although one could also argue that his presence on defense is the least impactful of the group.

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Clearly, Chau took a devil’s advocate position, but we could very well be sitting here in eight or nine months discussing Towns’s credentials as an MVP candidate and, once again, as one of the best big men in the game.