Think of the last defensive highlight you’ve had during your Timberwolves fandom. Chances are it involves a Ricky Rubio steal or an Andrew Wiggins block.
Now, take a step back and think of the last major defensive highlight you’ve had that took place AT the rim. Chances are it’s a Kevin Garnett block.
It's been far too long since the Wolves have had a true rim protector. The dreams of having even a decent rim protector have been just that for quite some time until finally, on June 25th, the dream became a reality. With the selection of Karl-Anthony Towns, the tides seemed to have turned. Factor in the sweet shooting stroke, impressive passing skills and poised personality, and on paper, the #1 pick seems to have the foundation of being a great one.
In a few very rare cases, Kevin Martin’s lack of defense might actually prove to be beneficial to the Wolves thanks to KAT’s weakside help. Towns is a ball hawk - he averaged 4 blocks per 40 pace adjusted in his sole year at Kentucky and often erased shots as viciously as this one.
In summer league, we saw more of the same. For the first time in awhile, I’m somewhat excited for guards to drive the lane against the Wolves.
In addition to rim protection, the one thing the Wolves have been sorely lacking since the early days of KG is the ability for a big to defend well after screens. KAT does it as well as you’d hope for a Rookie to do. His mobility is matched by only a few big men in the league.
There are few people who can make me "ooh and ahh" while passing the ball, but despite the nature of summer league, KAT did just that. Facing double teams quite often, KAT continually found ways to distribute the ball to the open man, creating gems like this.
It’s going to be beautiful seeing a passer like Towns with a slasher like Wiggins next season. Get excited.
When I first watched KAT (admittedly during the NCAA tournament), there were quite a few times I wondered how his shots dropped. Time after time I saw him hit hook shots through contact and soon, I realized it was more than luck. He’s got great body control, footwork and finishes with a soft touch. In summer league, he proved it yet again.
The thing I’m most excited about for KAT offensively is his role in the pick & roll/pop with Ricky. Ricky excelled with Kevin Love in these situations (Pick & Pop, specifically) and I have a feeling KAT will thrive similarly despite the likely restriction he’ll have on shooting threes. Take a look at a few college highlights and you'll see how well he’s able to maneuver in these situations.
One can only imagine the opportunities that’ll be created with Kevin Martin and Andrew Wiggins on the wings and teams crashing on KAT after the pick & roll.
My favorite part about his offensive arsenal has been left out thus far. His shooting stroke. While we may not see a lot of it early on, there’s no doubt he can shoot the ball. If you've got any doubts, see below.
Lastly, on a non-basketball related note: if you haven’t noticed, Towns has quite the personality. Between Karlito, his appearances on well-known shows, and his constant praise of teammates, coaches, friends and family, he’s the exact kind of guy the Wolves were hoping for off the court. You couldn’t ask for a more poised interviewee at 19 years old.
I realize this hasn’t been much of a preview, so for fun, here are my predictions for next year: 9.5ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg, 1.2bpg and .5spg.
Let me know what I missed in the comments below!