Now that the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, they should consider taking calls on trade offers for Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are on an eight-game losing streak, capped off by a home loss to the previously 6-22 Pelicans, and they are out of the playoff standings at the moment.
Now that we are officially in trade season until Feb. 7, it’s time to discuss the best plan of action moving forward for the Wolves.
It’s hard to imagine the Wolves trading two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who is now in the All-NBA conversation as a top-three center in the NBA.
Considering that Towns often shares the floor with a pretty solid group of defenders, including Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie, and Jarrett Culver, it’s amazing that KAT’s individual defensive rating is that bad.
Most would point to Wiggins as being a weak link on that end of the floor, but he actually leads all small forwards in blocks this season, for whatever that’s worth. And while Culver has a lot of development to do on the offensive end of the floor, his defense has been good for a rookie.
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Instead of attacking the Wolves’ perimeter defenders in isolation, most teams have attacked Towns in the pick-and-roll by setting a screen on the perimeter defender and forcing KAT to switch onto the ball-handler.
Towns has routinely been dropping back all the way to the rim in that scenario causing him to be out of position to contest midrange jumpers.
One could argue that the defensive system implemented by Ryan Saunders and associate head coach David Vanterpool isn’t doing KAT any favors and that he is supposed to give up those midrange jumpers, but Towns also struggled in former head coach Tom Thibodeau’s system where he was often abused in the pick-and-roll.
In a recent interview Gorgui Dieng said, “Whatever the coach does, they can change the defensive scheme, whatever. But you’ve got to have heart. You have to want it first. You have to want to play defense. If we don’t have the defensive mindset, whatever the coach does, it won’t work.”
Dieng has managed to earn a defensive rating of a 102.1 even though he has been sharing the floor with Teague and Napier for most of his minutes.
Towns is simply not a good defender and he is playing a position that doesn’t allow any wiggle room for bad defense.
Even with that major flaw, Towns still has the highest trade value of anyone on the team as he is still considered to be one of the best all-around centers in the NBA, and if the Wolves can get a similar haul as the Pelicans did for Anthony Davis it would be a no-brainer for the Wolves to jump on it.
Even if KAT isn’t the same level of player as AD, he is under contract through 2023-24 whereas Davis is in the final year of his deal.
The Wolves have traded an ultra-talented player with defensive issues before in Zach LaVine, and that strategy makes even more sense now with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Most of the recent championship teams have featured wings or guards as their best players, not big men. And those big men who led their teams to titles were much better on the defensive end than KAT is.
One team that could be interested in Towns is the New Orleans Pelicans, who have recently acquired several first-round picks and have a wealth of young talent to trade.
In return, the Wolves could potentially get two or three lottery picks, Brandon Ingram, who is still on his rookie deal and in the most improved player conversation this year, J.J. Redick, who would instantly help the Wolves’ shooting problems, and summer league standout Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
With Towns gone the Wolves could start Dieng, who is an above-average defender, sets good screens, spaces the floor, rolls to the rim, and overall just brings much more energy than Towns. And Gorgui has played well when he’s been asked to start for an absent Towns this year.
Even if Reid or the other centers on the roster don’t fit the long-term plan for this organization, it’s not hard to find a good cheap rim-protector in today’s NBA like the Lakers did with Dwight Howard who’s having a really solid season.
With newly-acquired draft assets and cap space, the Wolves would be in great position to acquire whatever stars Rosas wants to acquire in the future.
It may seem like a crazy idea at first, but trading Karl-Anthony Towns would be a prudent plan of action for Minnesota’s organization moving forward.