With the new NBA season just now crossing over into the third week, many of us have had the opportunity to wet our palette with NBA action that was nonexistent throughout the summer months. For the Timberwolves, they have been licking their chops at the chance to see their first overall pick in the draft, the multitalented Karl Anthony Towns, in action.
It is fair to say at this point in this young man’s new career he’s shown us exactly why NBA scouts, coaches, and GMs raved over his potential. Let’s dig into the numbers a little!
First off, here is a glimpse at what Towns has down in his first ten games in the NBA. There are a few low-points, but as with any rookie learning a new match-up almost every night, this is absolutely expected.
W 10/28 @ LA Lakers
32 Minutes, 6-10 FG, 14 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 0 Blk
W 10/30 @ Denver
33 Minutes, 11-19 FG, 28 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Blk
His best game to-date.
L 11/02 vs Portland
27 Minutes, 5-9 FG, 11 Pts, 5 Reb, 0 Ast, 4 Blk
L 11/05 vs Miami
22 Minutes, 3-13 FG, 6 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk
W 11/07 @ Chicago
27 Minutes, 8-18 FG, 17 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Blk
W 11/09 @ Atlanta
32 Minutes, 5-7 FG, 17 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk
L 11/10 vs Charlotte
30 Minutes, 7-16 FG, 19 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk
L 11/12 vs Golden State
30 Minutes, 7-15 FG, 17 Pts, 11 Reb, 0 Ast, 0 Blk
L 11/13 @ Indiana
27 Minutes, 5-9 FG, 12 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl
L 11/15 vs Memphis
32 Minutes, 5-11 FG, 14 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk
15.5 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 20.88 PER 48.8% Shooting and 90% at the FT line are Towns’ averages through 10 games.
Now these are great numbers. First and foremost, the blocks per game as a pup are outstanding. 2.2 Per game is just a shade below what Serge Ibaka averaged last year, widely considered one of the shot altering front court players in the NBA. Another point that looks great is his FT%. Historically, shot blocking specialists and big guys don’t shoot their free throws well, but Towns in converting 90% from the charity stripe. That is a stat that cannot be overlooked in this small sample size. He has made 30-of-33 attempts so far. He’s got a good form.
Hey Deandre, you can shoot like this too! Sorry DJ, oh wait, no I’m not.
Although the FG% is a shade below 50 percent. It is still respectable and will likely fluctuate around the mid-line for most the year. His True Shooting percentage is at 54% currently. This number takes into account the Free Throws that any player converts.
A couple of those games in particular stick out. Against Portland, the first home game Towns was caught out of position a lot and got into foul trouble. This limited his effectiveness. The same is true for the next game against Miami. Bosh and Wade drew fouls on Towns early, and a third saddled him for more time later in the game. Without any leverage to be aggressive, he was essentially the runt of the litter.
After those two speed-bumps, Towns put up multiple double-doubles. No one wants to be the runt. Least of all the Number 1 overall draft pick. (Anthony Bennett?) Towns has been hitting a variety of nice looking post shots, he moves really well and uses a nifty right handed turn around jump hook to get a good percentage within 10 feet. Currently that is at 54 percent according to NBA.com’s stats. It appears he can use space to his advantage to the tune of 46 percent on catch and shoot opportunities.
Using these traits, he can sniff out the right play. He is also passing pretty well for a young center. He isn’t going to dish out tons of assists, but many big guys will put up a lonely moon-shaped number for weeks at a time as they only finish dunks and layups. Towns has got at least one in all games but two of the ten.
It sounds almost too good to be true. I confess, the upside on Karl’s game is immense. He can impose his will defensively, he shoots free throws well, and has been scoring and rebounding at double-double averages. Those kind of numbers deserve Alpha Wolf status. Especially when stat-stuffer Kevin Love couldn’t protect the rim at all, and Nikola “The Godfather” Pekovic has too much weight on those ankles. Under the tutelage of Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett, Towns is only getting better. He still has a ways to grow, but isn’t that the exciting part?
(Click here to see how these six players stacked up in their first ten games in the NBA. Number 6 will SHOCK you.)
First, off the top of my head, a few players remind me of Towns. Let’s start with Al Horford, current Atlanta Hawks center and an All-Star last year. His game is not super flashy, but Horford has been solid for years now after winning a championship in Florida. A few years he was injured, but has recovered nicely. As a pretty good shooter who has expanded his range to the arc, Horford also rebounds effectively, has great touch with his passing, and definitely works the Eastern conference each night with his no-nonsense post game. Horford was a rookie in 2008. This year, the Hawks’ center is averaging 17/8 and almost 2 blocks per game.
In his first ten games, Horford scored double digits three times: 16&7 @ Bos, 13&13 vs Cha (His only double-double) and 11&8 vs SAS. Horford only blocked more than 2 shots one time, 5 vs the Supersonics, RIP. He pulled in double digit rebounds in half of his first ten games. This stretch also included 55% FG. Alright, cool. Towns first few games draws parallels, but his blocks will be higher, his points very well could be too.
There have been a ton of tall guys to play in the NBA, another player reminds me of KAT too. This time, it is current Sacramento Kings GM, and former Sacramento Kings center, and the architect of flopping himself, Vlade Divac. Divac was always good in the post and had a pretty solid face up mid-range, not too much unlike Towns. In less than 25 minutes a game, and in 1989 to boot, Divac recorded a double-double in just one game out of ten. However, he did shoot 55% from the field and block four shots once, swipe four steals two times. Towns has already blocked four shots three separate times. Divac was a perennial top notch center for the Kings in their best years. Maybe Towns can surpass the Serb.
How about something that is not in Towns’ favor? Hakeem, the Dream, Olajuwon. The stats are incomplete because The Dream’s first year was in 1984, but the points are there. He scored over 20 in half of his first ten games. And never in single digits. Hakeem was awesome, and even if the blocks and all the rebounds aren’t there on the basketball reference page for Hakeem. It is pretty safe to assume that they actually were in real life. NBA legend Olajuwon has a step up on Towns. There’s your upper limit. It’s only ten games. Small sample sizes for the win.
Here’s another legend to compare Towns with. Even though the Admiral unquestionably doesn’t shoot as well as Towns does from range, David Robinson was an amazing basketball player at his time, and a much better post player than Towns may ever be. His first ten games include nine double-doubles, many of those were 20-and-10 feats. Robinson shot well from the line, and was the focal point of a bad Spurs team. This was indeed a different age of basketball, but I could potentially see Towns flourish in that time because of his diverse skill set. Robinson wasn’t asked to shoot outside like many of today’s bigs are.
Unfortunately for Karl, he doesn’t stack up to what these two Hall-of-Famers did in their first 10 games.
Remember the Big Ticket? Of course you do. He’s a former MVP, an NBA champion and now back mentoring this young team on how to be a professional and put the work in to get to championship level. Garnett’s first ten games were not as spectacular as you would imagine, but he averaged 6.9 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 1.2 Blk on 58% FG and 78% at the line. He had no double-doubles and only one double digit point game (19/8 vs SAS). He won only one game and has had a stellar career since.
How about recent number 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis?
Davis, the new face of the Pelicans and a new star player in the league averaged 15.6 Points, 9.3 Rebounds, 1.9 Blocks while shooting 48% from the field and 64% from the line. Davis also missed three of his team’s first 13 games due to various small injuries. Towns has yet to miss a game.
Davis had a couple monster games in his first few including a 17 rebound night @ Dallas (6 pts) and two 20-and-10 games (@MIA, vs CHA). He had only those two double-doubles though as he finished with eight or nine boards four different times.
Let’s side-by-side put Towns’ and Davis’ numbers here for their first 10 NBA games.
Towns: 15.5 Pts /10.2 Reb /2.2 Blk / 48% FG / 90% FT
Davis: 15.6 Pts /9.3 Reb /1.9 Blk / 48% FG / 64% FT
How’s that for a comparison of what the future may hold? Now, Minnesota just needs to stay healthy and develop their bevy of young talent so their formidable mix of young players can start contending at an elite level. The Timberwolves currently hold the longest playoff drought in the NBA but it won’t be long; the pack is hungry.