In 2016 and 2017, NBA GMs were asked “If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?” For consecutive years, Karl-Anthony Towns was the most popular vote, earning 48% in 2016 and 29% in 2017. It seemed to all make sense. The 2015 first overall pick is a seven foot agile big that seemed to be a prototype of where the NBA was headed.
Karl had a great year in 2017. He played all 82 games for the third consecutive seasons, keeping his streak of never missing a game alive. He shot 42% from beyond the arc; the same percentage as Steph Curry and J.J. Redick, while still attempting 3.5 threes a game. He was third in the league in total rebounds grabbing over 1,000 boards. Most importantly, he took his Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs, something that the Wolves haven’t been able to do in 13 years. So on October 3rd when the 2018 GM survey results were released, why did the the GMs all agree that Towns wasn’t the franchise starter they all thought him to be?
Karl put up a ghostly 8 points in 40 minutes during Game 1 against the Rockets. Seems worrisome but everyone has a bad game, right? Three days later in Game 2, KAT posted just 5 points. The big man was a complete non-factor to begin the series and by the time Game 3 rolled around, it was too late. Before the series, we had no sample size of Karl in the playoffs so we didn’t know he would drop off. We were free to let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of him being dominate in the playoffs, but not anymore.
Combine this with Karl’s inability to turn defensive potential into defense ability, and you see why GMs are looking at other prospects. Karl fouls opposing players more than anybody else in the league, while his teammate, Jimmy Butler, has more steals than fouls. Unfortunately fo the Wolves, Jimmy Butler that couldn’t get behind the young Towns as a teammate. Is that Towns’ fault? Maybe not, but it’s still a mark against him.
Let me be clear; Karl is a top prospect and I see him as a top ten player in five years. But is he the best player for a franchise to start a team with? The GMs believe they would be better off with Giannis, Davis, or Embiid. Tweet us @48minutesntwrk and tell us your thoughts on who you would start a team with.