If you've been following the Minnesota Timberwolves for the past five years, then I’m sure you're well aware of Karl-Anthony Towns’ turbulent postseason performances. The big man has broken multiple Wolves records and is one of the best players to play in front of the Minnesota faithful, but has yet to advance past the first round of the NBA playoffs.
While the Timberwolves have been far from the poster child for success during KAT’s tenure, Towns hasn't yet done enough in the three postseason trips to prove he can elevate his game when the lights shine brightest. And for this reason, I believe that win or lose come playoff time, the success of this team will be in the hands of the multiple-time All-Star.
A tale of inconsistency
Although KAT has certainly had some good performances in the playoffs, they've been too far, and few between to promote much confidence come that time of year.
When looking at the numbers they certainly back this up as well. KAT has regular season career averages of 23 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 3.2 APG. Compare this to his postseason averages of 18.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG, and 2.1 APG, and it depicts a player who shrinks when playing in the most important matchups.
Despite the dropoff in points and assists, where his postseason struggles are most apparent is in his shooting splits as well as his turnovers per game. His career averages have him shooting a very efficient 53/40/84 with 2.7 TPG. Now, Towns has not been able to maintain this efficiency come playoffs, shooting 47/33/80 with 3.6 TPG.
KAT has certainly had some tough matchups throughout his playoff career, facing off against the 65-17 Houston Rockets in 2018, the 56-26 Memphis Grizzlies in 2022, and the 53-29 Denver Nuggets, who went on to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy earlier this year. However, in the NBA, the expectation for star players to elevate their play is well-documented, and Towns has yet to do that for the entirety of a playoff series.
With the Timberwolves currently tied with the Boston Celtics for the best record in the league at 15-4, the organization will have real championship aspirations this season, assuming the Wolves can maintain this level of play.
Although many have discussed the possibility of a Towns trade before this campaign, it's clear that the front office was content to run it back with the current roster. However, that may not be the case if he has another underwhelming series in a season where the Western Conference is up for grabs.