Wolves receive encouraging injury update from All-Star big man

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

Only four regular season games remain for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sitting at 54-24, the Wolves are on pace for the second-best season in franchise history. Despite losing All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns to a left meniscus injury nearly a month ago, the Wolves have managed to stay atop the Western Conference standings.

With Towns out of the lineup, the Wolves have gone 11-5. All five losses have come against playoff teams with four of the five squads being winners of 45 or more games on the season. What initially seemed to be a punishing blow has now essentially been overcome.

Although he underwent surgery less than 30 days ago, Towns has been cleared for full-contact, 5-on-5 basketball activities. While a return in the regular season might be out of the question, the All-Star big man looks like he'll be ready to go come playoff time.

For comparison, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid suffered the same injury as Towns. Embiid suffered his meniscus tear on January 30 and returned to practice on March 17. It took the reigning MVP 16 days to make an in-game appearance.

Towns' injury timeline is as follows: torn meniscus on March 7; surgery to repair the injury on March 12; return to practice on April 9. Taking into consideration Embiid's timeline, it appears as if Towns will be back for the second or third game of the first round.

However, we'll take Embiid's timeline with a grain of salt as Towns has demonstrated a much quicker recovery timeline. Whether it be the player or the severity of the injury, it's more likely than not that Towns returns for the opening game of the playoffs.

Towns' return to the lineup will be significant. The four-time All-Star holds averages of 22.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. The Kentucky product has shot the ball with extreme efficiency—shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from downtown.

Since Towns went down, the Wolves have seen a decrease in points, rebounds, and blocks per game. Minnesota has also shot it at a worse percentage from the floor and from beyond the arc. With Towns back in the fold, expect a positive shift in both scoring and efficiency metrics.