Karl-Anthony Towns is one of more interesting players to analyze or profile. Towns is neither the archaic, back to the basket big of yesteryear, nor is he truly a modern, versatile big.
That Towns is stuck in a weird in-between land between the modern and the old is troubling for his progression.
In the paint, KAT has an array of beautiful post moves that allow him to best his defender more often than not. From beyond the 3 point line, he is an excellent shooter, even as his volume increases with each year.
Much of these attempts are either open or spot up threes, however. He is certainly not taking any off the dribble shots from beyond the arc. The ability to shoot and stretch the floor somewhat is what makes KAT a modern big.
What makes him a more traditional big is somewhat limited mobility. Due in large part to his below average athletic ability, Towns is not a particularly mobile player. This fact makes his ability to stretch the floor largely hypothetical.
Towns is not able to effectively create a shot for himself on the perimeter, instead he tends to camp at the three point line and will hit the shot if the ball swings his way while reasonably open.
Mobility and athletic issues asides, Towns’ offensive skills makes him elite on that end of the court. Defensively is another issue, however. Towns may not be a total sieve defensively, but he is not getting selected to any All-Defensive Teams any time soon either.
In fact, it is his lack of defensive prowess that keeps him at least one tier below someone like Anthony Davis, who is effective both offensively and defensively.
The eye test seems to betray KAT’s ceiling. Watching him play you see a talented player with superstar potential. However, entering his 6th season in the league, KAT only has one All-NBA Third Team selection to his name.
This likely means it is all but certain that Towns is cut out to be the best player on a championship team. In fact, projecting him as the second best player on a championship team still seems overly optimistic.
Though marking Karl Anthony Towns’ ceiling as the third best player on a championship level team may seem harsh for such a talented player – it makes sense for a number of reasons.
Firstly, bigs that do not also function as wings are not nearly as valuable as they once were in the NBA. Secondly, it still comes down to his defense. The best big men in the NBA are equally impactful on both ends of the court.
Though his game is totally different, KAT is almost the equivalent of a modern day Patrick Ewing – clearly skilled and impactful in several ways, but not quite good enough to take his team over the hump.
As presently constructed, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not in a position to contend for an NBA championship. Even if the Wolves are able to retain D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards reaches his potential, they would likely still just be a really good team, falling short in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Clint is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and contributed to various sports publications prior to his work with Upside Hoops.