Reason III: The return of the Stifle Tower
With the healthy return of teammate Karl-Anthony Towns as the starting power forward, center Rudy Gobert can focus on becoming a rim protector once more. Unlike last year, this season will not force Gobert to compensate for a huge loss of offensive firepower due to Towns’ injury.
While there are many impacts and challenges to the Minnesota Timberwolves 2022-23 season that are directly a result of the injury to starting power forward Karl-Anthony Towns, perhaps the one that every misses is the fact that KAT’s absence in the lineup forced Gobert into a different role for the Timberwolves roster.
Towns went down
With Towns present on the basketball court, Gobert had a focused role of defending the basket and blocking shots. In October 2022, he was locked into that familiar role, averaging 14.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Even his offense was respectable, as he averaged 14.1 points per game.
But when Towns fell to injury as November 2022 drew to a close, Gobert’s numbers began to erode. Without Towns on the basketball court, Gobert tried to get more involved on the offensive side of the basketball court, with mixed results. Unfortunately, that forced Gobert to be spread a bit thinly, and teams began to reroute their offense to take advantage of the opportunity.
With Towns back and starting once more, Gobert can return to the role that he is best at. That means that he can put his back to the basket, block shots, and haul in rebounds once more. Even if Gobert recovers this year to his career averages, he will improve on his blocks per game by 50 percent. That could make a huge difference.