clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Karl-Anthony Towns sparks upset of Warriors; Called best rookie since Shaquille O'Neal

Towns sparked a massive upset at Golden State as he continues one of the best seasons ever by an NBA rookie.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This year's rookie class of Wildcats continues to leave their mark in the NBA while providing a bright future for their respective teams.

Heck, Karl-Anthony Towns is on pace to become one of the greatest Cats ever to play in the pros. Fresh off his Western Conference Rookie of the Month award, Towns helped lead the Timberwolves to one of the biggest upsets of the NBA season on Tuesday night.

Playing at Golden State against the 69-8 Warriors, who are on the cusp of NBA history, Towns notched 20 points, 12 rebounds and stellar defense for the Wolves as they pulled off a 124-117 OT win. Towns' and-1 layup with under a minute left in OT proved to be the dagger for easily the biggest win of his young pro career:

But it was that defense that helped limit NBA MVP Stephen Curry to 7-of-25 shooting for 21 points.

"It wasn't even about being a part of history," Towns said. "You want to go out there and win. Every game, you want to go out there and you want to be a very competitive team that goes out there and wins."

It was Towns' 49th double-double of his rookie season and 13th straight. He's been a star this season and was even in consideration for a berth in the All-Star Game, not to mention he's in the running for a spot on one of the All-NBA teams.

Those are two honors that Hall-of-Fame big man Shaquille O'Neal earned frequently throughout his career while becoming one of the best bigs to ever play basketball.

FOX Sports' Michael Pina went as far as to call Towns the best NBA rookie since O'Neal.

Towns' per game numbers are awesome. He's averaging 18.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He's shooting 54.4 percent from the floor, 34.6 percent behind the three-point line (on one attempt per game) and 82.5 percent from the charity stripe.

It's a tad arbitrary, but only one other rookie in NBA history (Hall-of-Famer David Robinson) ever averaged that many points and rebounds with Towns' current true shooting percentage. Towns is already one of the best mid-range jump shooters in the entire league, with silky post moves and an intuitive understanding of complex NBA defensive rotations.

There's no way to prove a rookie from 1996 is better or worse than one from 2016, but Towns officially belongs in any discussion with other all-time greats who pressed their fingerprint on the league in Year 1.

Between Towns, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel, Terrence Jones and Trey Lyles, there's no question that Kentucky has not only the best big men alumni in the pros, but also continue to take over the NBA.