It was nearly a foregone conclusion that the Minnesota Timberwolves would struggle in some way or another this year.
For starters, the Western Conference became that much more loaded as out of 15 organizations, almost all of them are legitimate playoff teams. More importantly, though, is the locker room and front office turmoil in Minneapolis.
There are problems with the coaching, the contracts, the play on the court and, most notably, between the teams stars. It’s become evident that Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler can’t coexist. If that hasn’t been obvious enough through what’s going on off the floor, we need only look to Towns’ play on it through Minnesota’s first 6 games.
In their opener at San Antonio, Towns fouled out in 22 minutes with only 8 points. He followed that up with just 12 points against Cleveland, the second-worst defense in the league. He played well in the next 2 games against Dallas and Indiana where he averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds. He slid back again, though, in Toronto where he scored 14 points on 29% shooting from the field.
As if that doesn’t speak for itself, Towns airballed a three directly out of bounds, turned to the bench and checked himself out of the game. Finally, the Wolves got blown out by 30 in a recent game at home against Milwaukee.
The NBA world has taken notice of Towns’ struggles. He looks out of control at times and too passive at others. Overall, his confidence seems to be lacking. Averages of 16 points and 9 rebounds don’t look bad as far as a professional basketball player goes, but Karl was the 2015-2016 Rookie Of The Year, a first time All-Star last year and a 2017-2018 All-NBA player coming off his first playoff appearance.
Before the 2017-2018 season, he was voted as the player GM’s most wanted to sign, the most likely to have a breakout season and the best center in the NBA in the annual NBA GM survey. Finally, he signed a 5-year, $190 million contract extension to stay in Minnesota this offseason.
With all this said, this should not be a player that is struggling as much as he is. He’s shot 54% from the field in his first three seasons, but is shooting a career low 43%. Overall, he just genuinely looks like he doesn’t want to be out there at times.
The good news is Towns did just have a bounceback game of sorts in Monday’s win against the Lakers. He finished with 25 points but shot 7/18 from the field, a mere 38.9%.
It may be the dilemma of Butler still being in Minnesota or maybe he’s gotten in his own head, but Towns needs to pull whatever’s going on together. He’s too good of a player and being paid too much now for this to be going on with him.
If he doesn’t break out of this, Minnesota will likely miss the playoffs, lose Butler for nothing in his upcoming free agency, and will be back at square one as a team before they know it.