After watching hours of footage from the rookie seasons of Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon, I can say with confidence that Karl-Anthony Towns will be just as good, if not better, than both of those legends.
And the numbers back it up.
Towns finished his all-time great rookie campaign averaging over 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. He joined an elite shortlist of players to put up those numbers in their rookie seasons, which includes Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elton Brand, Alonzo Mourning and Ralph Sampson.
Out of that list of 7 players, 4 of them are consensus top-20 players ever, and the other 3 were, at a minimum, All-Star caliber players in their day. Pretty elite company.
And Towns, being the youngest member of that list, is already far more developed than the others were in their rookie seasons.
In a modern NBA where most players over 7 foot can’t go three feet without dribbling the ball off their foot, and are therefore being phased out of today’s perimeter-dominated NBA, Towns genuinely has the full skill set of a guard at 6’11.
This was put on display when he became the tallest player to ever win the skills challenge back in February.
With the center becoming a dead position, and 6’7 players like Draymond Green becoming the face of the position as the NBA transitions into the “small-ball” era, Towns in redefining how the position can be played, and showing how a front office can still build a championship team around a big man.
It’s almost a necessity in today’s NBA for a player to be able to hit an outside shot, even for a big man.
And while not known for his jumpshot while Kentucky, he, with the help of his mentor, Kevin Garnett developed KAT a respectable jumper that he was even able to use as a weapon at times during the season.
He was able to knock down 30 3-pointers in his rookie season, a very respectable number, especially considering the 34% clip at which he shot them at.
Although improving from the outside, it’s on the interior where Towns makes the biggest difference on the offensive end. He’s one of the few dominant post players left in the league, and he has a chance to be the very best post player ever.
KAT’s elite physical tools, which include a 7’4 wingspan, combined with his nimble feet and soft touch around the rim make him a near impossible cover on the block.
Towns also has an array of post moves that he frequently uses, and runs the floor extremely well for his size. Two attributes which are extremely rare among big men.
And although the stats don’t show it, KAT is an underrated passer out of the post. He’s a high IQ player, and finds shooters out of the post as well as being able to create from the perimeter without forcing the issue.
At the ripe age of 20, Towns is already more developed than Dwight Howard ever was, and people once spoke of him in the same breath as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Check out Towns put all of his attributes on display in this game against Milwaukee:
Towns’ polished offensive game at such a young age is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. And as good as he is on offense, he’s just as good on defense.
On top of being a menacing rim protector, Towns’ nimble footwork and excellent lateral movement allow him to keep pace with some of the NBA’s elite guards off the dribble, including Steph Curry.
With such a young and talented supporting cast, the Wolves will certainly be in playoff contention next season, and title contention in the coming seasons. Anything short of multiple championships. with this group will be considered a disappointed, they’re that talented.
And in my opinion, only two current players in the NBA have a legitimate chance of surpassing Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever; LeBron James and Karl-Anthony Towns.