Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has become criminally underrated

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 19: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 19: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images) /

We’ve officially arrived at the point where Minnesota Timberwolves’ superstar Karl-Anthony Towns has become incredibly underrated and under-appreciated.

In his young career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns has played for three coaches in four seasons, dealt with constant turnover in the front office, and a mercenary who was more interested in creating rifts than inspiring unity.

The hype surrounding Towns has diminished year by year even though he continuously improved and expanded his game.

Towns is already one of the most versatile offensive big men in the history of the league and he has all the potential to be included with the all-time greats. Towns has already amassed over 7,100 points, 3,800 rebounds, 800 assists, and 480 blocks all while shooting over 53 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three.

On their own, these numbers don’t mean much, so let’s put them in context with the game’s historical greats. Of course, the game has changed drastically over the years so let’s start with the basics: points and rebounds.

Per Basketball-Reference, Towns is one of eight players in NBA history to score over 7,100 points and collect over 3,800 rebounds over his first four seasons. He is also the first player to accomplish this feat since David Robinson in 1993 and is among names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and David Robinson.

On this stat alone, Towns should be regarded as one of the best big men of all time but this still isn’t impressive enough for some. When assists are added into the equation (at least 380 in first four seasons), the list is reduced to just four players in NBA history: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Once 3-pointers are added into the mix, Abdul-Jabbar, Robinson, and Baylor are eliminated from the equation, leaving Towns as the only player in NBA history to achieve these impressive numbers in his first four seasons.

So instead of using criteria that would cater toward centers, let’s focus on just the shooting numbers Towns has put up. Throughout NBA history, only two players have shot over 50 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line, and 35 percent from three with at least 1,000 3-point attempts: Karl-Anthony Towns and Reggie Miller.

Related Story. How Towns could win the MVP award. light

Despite their reputations, Towns has been a more efficient shooter than Miller at this point in their careers. Not only is Towns one of the most productive centers in NBA history, but he is also one of the most accurate shooters.

Towns’ offensive versatility and talent is second to none. He is a generational talent who can step back for three, bang in the post, and score off the drive. On top of that, he is one of the best passing big men in the league.

Below, we see the versatility and ingenuity of Towns’ game.

I’m sure you’re thinking Towns’ only impact comes on the offensive end and these stats are being cherrypicked.

First, it must suck to be that pessimistic all the time. Second, please appreciate the rarified air that Towns’ offensive talent takes him to. Third, I’ll admit Towns has had major holes in his defensive game, but he has also shown improvement and stretches of being a good defender.

Here we can see an example of a defensive lapse from Towns. Al Horford goes to set the pick but slips the screen. Towns fails to recognize this and fully commits to the ball handler. This results in four Timberwolves in a close area and a wide-open Horford jumper.

It’s fair that Towns deserves criticism for his defensive lapses. Most of these errors come when he is drawn away from the rim. However, to completely ignore the coaching turnover and outdated systems he’s been exposed to is foolish.

Towns’ biggest issue on defense has been his positioning when he is pulled away from the rim. Despite this, he has proven to be an effective shot blocker. Among players that have recorded 3,800 rebounds in their first four seasons, Towns is one of seven players that has also recorded 450 blocks.

Sure, blocks can be misleading, but they are a strong indicator of a center’s rim protection ability.

In the below clip we can see the potential of Towns’ defensive ability. The Trail Blazers run a play designed to clear out the lane for a Jake Layman layup. As the play develops, Robert Covington gets hit with a strong screen and loses his man. Instead of overplaying his man, Towns positions himself to be within reach of his man while also not abandoning the lane.

As Layman comes off the screen, Towns recognizes that Covington has been taken out of the play and he rotates immediately. This allows him to be in a great position to block the shot and not commit a foul.

Towns already has a historically great offensive game and has all the tools to be a really good defender. With a solidified coaching staff and roster, Towns should be more comfortable and effective on the defensive end this year.

Instead of critiquing every little error, let’s instead focus on the unique talent that Karl-Anthony Towns is. Towns is a seven-footer with elite post moves, the ability to knock down threes, and take opponents off the dribble.

Next. 3 stars the Wolves could acquire to help Towns. dark

This season, please take note of the singular talent that Towns is and how rare his abilities are.