Canis Hoopus recently caught up with NBA skills guru Matt Mazarei to discuss his offseason training with the Wolves’ franchise big man, Karl-Anthony Towns.
Between July 1 and September 20, the two had 35 workouts together with the main areas of emphasis being:
- Joining the elite 50-40-90 shooting club. “Efficiency is the name of the game,” says Mazarei. Towns finished the 2017-18 season at 54.5 (FG%), 42.1 (3PT%) and 85.8 (FT%). His sights are set on becoming the 8th player to ever accomplish this.
- Advanced ball handling for blow-by drives against quicker defenders and change of speed Eurosteps, with the ability to switch hands from right to left or vice-versa.
- Shooting off the dribble with distance and footwork separation to create threes or jumpers.
- Creativity on catch and posts, adding a sense of peripheral vision “chin to shoulders type skill” to see and execute the best option.
- On the defensive end, they stressed quicker footwork with a stunting “bluff-type step” towards the offensive player. They worked on anticipating ball screens and paying attention to weakside bigs who are looking for drop passes and lobs.
Mazarei says a big part of Towns’ seldom mishaps on the court has to do with fatigue. “Yes, I say seldom because his offensive game is superstar status so the comparison [on the defensive end] is on a pedestal. His defense to the common fan looks mediocre and that’s not the case.”
To battle fatigue, they focused on taking Towns’ conditioning to the next level this offseason.
“The times he was late on stunts or jumping to the ball side to prevent drop and lob passes mainly occurred when he was extremely fatigued and was in the middle of high minutes. In order to overcome these defensive lapses, we had a simple solution: get in the best possible shape and focus on conditioning so fatigue doesn’t become a factor as much. We lightened his footwork, no more heavy steps towards opponents.”
Mazarei says Towns has become more agile on the defensive end and this new found agility will also complement his offensive game quite nicely with pull-up jumpers from any type of distance. Towns’ quick shooting pocket and release make him a deadly threat from anywhere on the court.
“To be absolutely honest, it frightens me how much better he’s become and how high of a ceiling this man has,” Mazarei raves. “This summer was just a glimpse into the future and the Wolves have five more years with this unicorn, at least.”