The Minnesota Timberwolves may have an anchor in veteran center Rudy Gobert, and an amazingly elite young rising NBA star in shooting guard Anthony Edwards, but the real magic for this Timberwolves roster remains firmly on the shoulders of big All-Star power forward Karl-Anthony Towns.
Even as it appears that Karl-Anthony Towns is currently getting slammed all over social media as a player who can do no right, in the annals of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the incredibly diverse and amazing roles that he has been called upon to deliver with each new coaching or roster change, he has done no wrong.
How can I say that? Well, to be honest, the Minnesota Timberwolves are asking no more of Gobert, Edwards, small forward Jaden McDaniels, and even point guard Mike Conley Jr. than they have ever been. The glue, the mortar, and the space filler in the Timberwolves roster fall on KAT, in more ways than might be apparent to the naked eye.
Absence makes the heart grow
fonder . . . more cynical
Karl-Anthony Towns was absent for 53 games in the 2022-23 NBA season, which was a huge blow to the Timberwolves’ entire season. While his absence forced the team to distribute significant minutes around, leading to the re-signing of backup center/power forward Naz Reid and a second Two-Way contract for the young center Luka Garza, it severely handicapped the team in getting comfortable with their new roster.
It was the ability of the Timberwolves roster to cling desperately to an NBA Playoffs berth despite Towns’ absence that has given many a skeptical and more cynical view of KAT’s vital role with this team. But it’s the imminent day of reckoning, that sudden salary cap tsunami that is anticipated to hit and wipe out the Timberwolves roster when the team faces the limits of the 2024-25 NBA salary cap.
It’s the market value of Karl-Anthony Towns, and his incredible versatility, that continues to draw his name first and foremost into any conversations of future trade scenarios or NBA rumors. But that is for another day. How do the Timberwolves unlock KAT this season?
Getting a coach’s perspective
Well, Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch shares his thoughts on the matter in this Dane Moore Podcast video below:
In this one, Coach Finch details how the team optimizes KAT this season. The meat of that topic begins at the 7:20 mark, and it is great information to aid our understanding of the complexity of Karl-Anthony Towns’ role for the Timberwolves. Is he playing the 4 or 5 position? Who is defending him? Is he getting double-teamed? Is he at the heart of the offense? But it really comes down to this statement:
"“We can’t just park him (Karl-Anthony Towns) in the corner and treat him like a volume 3-point shooter because he’s way more than that, even though he is one of the best shooters in the league” -per Timberwolves Coach Finch"
Towns can be such an incredibly versatile offensive asset on the Timberwolves roster that never came to fruition due to injury and unfamiliarity. Players had to learn to compensate without KAT last season but struggled, even more, to adapt to his presence when he got healthy and returned to compete for the team.
While it is not a very popular concept, I believe in Karl-Anthony Towns’ ability to deliver this year. Nobody puts
, KAT in the corner. If the Timberwolves succeed in optimizing KAT’s play this season, then there is a strong argument for the Timberwolves to push for a Top-4 berth in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.
Can the Wolves get there? Stay tuned . . .