Web Editorial Associate
To say rookie sensation Karl-Anthony Towns started the season off strong would be a massive understatement. To give you an idea of how well the No. 1 pick has played so far this season, here is a list of what he has already accomplished:
- First teenager in NBA history with double doubles in his first two games
- The last players to average 17.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his first three games? Shaquille O’Neal.
- Towns was just the third player ever to eclipse 40+ points and 20+ rebounds in his first two NBA games. Dikembe Mutombo and David Robinson were the other two players.
- After the Trail Blazers game, Towns joined the likes of O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard and Shawn Kemp as players under the age of 23 since 1985 to record at least 50 points, 30 rebounds, and five blocks while shooting at least 50 percent through the first three games of the season, according to basketballreference.com
Only being 19 years of age, Towns has shocked the league with his rare combination of size and athleticism. Standing 7-feet tall with an impressive 7’3 wingspan and weighing in at 250 pounds, the New Jersey native is a basketball coach’s dream.
Although Towns has gotten off to an historic pace, that doesn’t mean his transition to the NBA will be without some growing pains.
In last Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat, Towns encountered a man by the name of Hassan Whiteside.
The former 2010 second-round pick by the Sacramento Kings has also gotten off to a hot start this season, averaging 15 points, nine rebounds and more than three blocks a game.
Outweighing Towns by almost 20 pounds, Whiteside had his way with the rookie, holding the youngster to only six points on 3-for-13 shooting and four rebounds in 22 minutes of playing time.
“I got the shots I wanted, I easily got the shots I wanted,” Towns said. “I got them in my sweet spots, shots we’re accustomed to seeing me make and just tonight they didn’t fall. I always have a motto, if it’s going in-and-out one night, then the next opponent should be worried.”
That type of mindset is what has players and coaches around the league buzzing. For a player who turns 20 in just nine days, to say that after a disappointing performance is truly remarkable.
“Towns is a unique player,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s a basketball player that can be effective on all areas of the court. His skill level is immense but you can tell that he has a cerebral side to the game as well.”
Although Towns struggled in that game, it’s his quick ability to learn that will allow him to use those rough games to his advantage.
He turned it around the next game, finishing with another double-double in Saturday’s overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.
“The dope thing about him is that when I do teach him something, he’s able to apply it right away and he gets what I’m teaching,” Kevin Garnett said. “It’s kind of refreshing to be honest, because sometimes you have to go slow, you have to show it three or four times with guys, which is fine because you have to be patient. But he gets it right away and he is able to apply it.”
The Timberwolves have been working on spacing throughout their most recent practices in order to get better looks at the basket. Towns was not the only player to struggle against the Heat as Minnesota shot a disappointing 35 percent as a team from the field.
“We’re just not a great shooting basketball team right now,” Wolves head coach Sam Mitchell said after that game. “We just have to keep working at it and get better. They’re getting good shots, those are the shots that we want, so we just have to make them. We missed some shots, we’re a young basketball team so the guys are feeling their way and learning, that’s just a part of it.”
Towns is averaging 15.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and three blocks per game while making 47.8 percent of the shots he takes.
And while it’s early, the former All-American looks exactly like what the Wolves were hoping for when they drafted him.