Karl-Anthony Towns: One of the Most Underrated Superstars in the NBA
When discussing the best big men in the NBA, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Rudy Gobert are players that are commonly discussed. Here are some reasons why Karl-Anthony Towns, a perennial All-Star candidate has been overlooked and underrated for years despite being among the best.
The Best Shooting Center Ever?
When looking at the numbers, Towns is perhaps the greatest shooting center we’ve ever seen. Yes, I mean that. Among all current qualified players, Towns is the only center this year to average over 2 three-pointers per game, and the only two centers who are close, Bobby Portis and Christian Wood, are naturally power forwards who play center mostly out of necessity. Towns’ current 3-point percentage this year of 40.4% is higher than Kevin Love, Khris Middleton, Buddy Hield, Devin Booker, and Stephen Curry. If you’re not convinced yet, since the 2018-2019 season, Towns has made 2.3 threes per game on 40% shooting. Dirk Nowitzki for his career averaged 1.3 threes on 38% shooting. Reggie Miller averaged 1.8 on 39.5%. Oh, and per Statmuse, Towns already leads all-time in three-pointers made by a center.
A Complete Offensive Player
Don’t get the wrong impression, Towns can do much more than just shoot three-pointers. Towns is a complete player, who, despite shooting lots of threes, is 20th in the NBA this season in overall field goal percentage, behind players such as Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell who typically only look to score when under the hoop. Remarkably, in his age 26 season, Towns is already in striking distance of passing Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler in career points. Even completely disregarding the fact that Towns is a center (which makes his stats look more impressive), Towns is simply one of the best, most complete offensive players in the game today.
The Best Ability is Availability
Towns’ career points total is so impressive for two main reasons: he’s been a great player from day one, and he always seems to be available to play. Towns began his career by playing 82, 82, 82, and 77 games for his first four seasons. Towns’ next season was riddled with a couple of injuries, both of which have seemed to have zero impact on him long-term, as well as seeing his mother and 7 other relatives succumb to COVID-19, and he was still able to play more than half of the Timberwolves 64 games. Missing games the next season, 2020-2021, was completely out of Towns’ control, as he contracted COVID-19 during the season, and took extra personal time off as he was still coping with the death of his mother. Some players like Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid always seem to be showing up on the injury report, but it’s time that fans start appreciating Towns’ availability for the Timberwolves.
Disproving The Common Narratives
The two biggest knocks on Towns by common fans is the fact that his defense isn’t comparable to other centers such as Myles Turner, Joel Embiid, and Rudy Gobert, and he simply hasn’t been able to win many games since coming into the league in 2015. For the defense argument, remember, I’m not claiming Towns to be the best center, nor even a top 15 NBA player, and think about how many players get either an offense or defense pass if they are great at one of the two. Players such as Trae Young, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, and Matisse Thybulle are so exceptional at one side of the game that most fans would give little thought to the other. Also, I’ll prove to you simply why offense matters so much more than defense in today’s game. Who is the better overall player: Trae Young or Matisse Thybulle?
As for the narrative that Towns has struggled to win, there isn’t much to combat this other than the fact that he had Andrew Wiggins as his sidekick for most of his career. Fans will point to the one year Jimmy Butler was on the team, and to this, it’s easy to understand why the playoff run didn’t materialize when looking at who they went up against, the Rockets team that came closer than any other to defeating the Durant-led Warriors. This season, although many fans look at the Timberwolves starting five, see talent, and question the losses, it’s important to bring up that the Timberwolves starting lineup has been literally one of the four best five-man units in the past decade.
Although the Timberwolves have been irrelevant in recent years, Towns clearly isn’t at all a reason for that. And hey, Anthony Edwards seems to finally be the superstar teammate that he’s been looking for.