The Big LeadThe Big Lead

Karl-Anthony Towns Is Growing Up Right Before Our Eyes

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 25: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during their game at Spectrum Center on October 25, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Last year was a weird year for the Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler was supposed to be the veteran that teaches the young players "winning habits" and all of those other buzz words that the NBA loves to throw around. What happened instead was a bit of a disaster, as the team fell apart at the seams and ultimately traded Butler.

The player most affected by the debacle was young star Karl-Anthony Towns. Before the trade, Towns was passive on the offensive end of the floor; leading up to Butler's departure in early November, Towns scored over 30 points only twice and scored less than 20 seven times in 14 games. After the trade, he scored less than 20 a total of 10 times in 68 games. He looked more comfortable as the fulcrum of the Wolves offense and without any internal controversy.

Towns is a year older now, and while it's only been two games, he's proving he has a place in the discussion for best offensive big man in the game. He dropped 36 and 37 points, respectively, in the Wolves' opening pair of games and looked nigh unstoppable. He can score from anywhere on the floor, going 5-11 from three and shooting over 50% as a whole. He's also been committed on the defensive end, and while he hasn't been perfect, it's a big step from last year, where he was, generally speaking, one of the worst defensive centers in the league.

And he's only 23! You have to pick your poison with Towns; he's too good of a free throw shooter to rely on any "Hack-a" strategy, he has a handful of go-to moves in the post, and the pick-and-pop game with Jeff Teague has been the most effective set by a long shot for Minnesota. When you watch his highlights, it's clear that no matter where he is, he's able and ready to get a bucket.

Everyone knew Towns had this in him. There were glimpses, especially in the second half of last season. But so far, he's really put his whole game together, and the results are equally amazing and frightening. He's throwing his hat in the ring for one of the league's must-watch players on a nightly basis, and the case only grows stronger by the day.