3 Minnesota Timberwolves players are too low in ESPN’s rankings

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns ranked No. 23 by ESPN

It wasn’t long ago that Towns was a consensus top-15 or top-20 player with an agreed-upon upside of potentially being the best player in the league in short order.

Instead, a fallout with Jimmy Butler after Towns’ first All-Star appearance and lone season in which he led the Timberwolves to the playoffs led to the Wolves’ precipitous fall-off since Butler’s exit; Minnesota has just a 51-92 record since the trade in November 2018.

Of course, there have been myriad other factors: a new head coach, a new front office, massive roster turnover, and a pair of injuries in 2019-20 — the first (and second) time Towns has ever missed extended time in his professional career.

With that, Towns has seen his player ranking slide (subscription required) each of the past five years.

If Towns stays healthy and the Wolves are competitive, his ranking will absolutely rise from No. 23 and into the mid-teens at worst.

If Minnesota makes the playoffs or was to surprise and advance beyond the first round, Towns will receive plenty of attention as a top-15 or even top-10 player.

The main issue for Towns is team success. Yes, his defense has been poor to this point, but individual defense and team success seem to be something of a chicken-or-the-egg situation for Towns. If the Wolves become a playoff team, it will almost certainly be in large part because Towns (and, to a lesser extent, Russell) commit themselves to improve on the defensive end of the floor. If the Wolves improve, Towns will be recognized.

He’s unlikely to ever be an all-defense type of player, but his offense is so efficient and transcendent that even being an average defensive presence would get Towns onto an All-NBA team overnight.

Even with his shortcomings, it’s a bit surprising to see Towns outside the top 20. It is, however, understandable.

Next. What will Anthony Edwards' role be with the Wolves?. dark

Russell’s ranking is the most egregious of the Wolves trio of top-100 players, but Towns and Rubio could each have complaints regarding their standing as well. Now, it’s time to roll the balls out and play and see if these rankings change at all over the next 12 months.