Karl Anthony Towns is eager to sacrifice to give the wolves a nickname, because he’s been doing so all his life

Karl-Anthony Towns has heard the question so many times over the past two months, all he can do at this point is laugh.

How do Towns, who are 7 feet tall, coexist with Minnesota Timberwolves“The newest acquisition, Rudy Gobert, a fellow 7-footer, in the NBA who is getting increasingly young?

chuckle. eye roll. Elongated lip. They are all outward expressions of what Towns knows to be true: He has plenty of experience playing alongside another big guy.

“The last time I had something like this, I obviously played with Georgie Deng [power forward] Many years in the NBA. Fans forgot about it. It’s okay,” Townes told CBS Sports. Back in college. That’s how I played in college. Willie Cooley-Stein looks like a 7-2. I don’t know what they lack in that.”

But wait there is more. During the 2017-18 season, the last time Wolverhampton Wanderers played the playoffs before a three-year drought collapsed last season, Towns played next to Gibson’s crown in all 82 games. Technically, Gibson is listed as the front force, but he’s more than Being a center more than cities. The Wolves had a net plus rating of 7.4 with both of them on the ground.

With all due respect to Gibson, Joubert is a different animal. By trading for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year in exchange for a massive pool of four first-round picks, five players and a selective swap, Minnesota has sent a message that they won’t wait for their young core to develop. Furthermore. It’s time to win now, a sentiment that echoed Towns earlier this summer when he said next season is “Championship or Bankruptcy,” and he feels he and Gobert complement each other in all the right ways.

“I think Rudy is one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had in the NBA,” Towns told CBS Sports. “He has the equipment to prove it.” “I think I’m one of the best players and offensive talent the NBA has ever seen. So putting us together really gives us a whole bunch of talent to use.”

Most agree that adding Gobert should improve the regular season for Wolverhampton, who went 46-36 last season and was ranked No. 7 in the Western Conference. They ranked 13th in the defensive rankings, placing Joubert’s pedigree center in the middle that would at least put them in the top ten, and possibly even higher. But skeptics point to Joubert’s relative defensive struggles in the previous postseason series when teams chose to go small. Now Minnesota will have to figure out how to make it work not just with Gobert, but the 7-foot-tall franchise player on the field.

It really boils down to whether Towns are able to constantly defend the ocean. Players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Jason Tatum spend a lot of their time up front these days, and while there are defensive schemes to cover it up, Towns will have to deal with players like that out in the space.

“I had a lot of fun playing on the ocean and guarding the ocean,” Towns told CBS Sports. “Just getting a chance to really take advantage of some of my strengths defensively, which is switching and being able to protect one to five. I enjoy being out there and being able to support Rudy when he needs five or four muscle, and we’re playing big formations or whatever, And then if they play little ball, I feel very comfortable with my chances of guarding guards and things like that, the wings.”

Towns are the first to point out stats that show he’s done well in isolation matches against ocean players over the past two seasons (“it’s not really talked about, but that’s just the data”), and his defensive improvement is one of the reasons Wolves have come to the fore. Going from second-worst defensive rank in 2020-21 to above average last season.

Although he didn’t have many chances of defensive isolation last season, Towns has shown the ability to move sideways. Watch here as James Harden scales his size, but Townes is able to stay ahead of him and compete without errors.

In fact, with Joubert behind him, Towns could play more to defend against three-pointers and jumps, knowing he has one of the best protectors in NBA history.

On an offensive level, the proportionality between Towns and Joubert is even more apparent. Towns is a high-volume, 40 percent 3-point shooter, at the 76th percentile in follow-up positions, according to Synergy Sports, so he’ll have no trouble waiting for shooters behind the arc to help open the path. He’s seen a lot of double-sided teams in the position during the 2020-21 season, so last year he worked as a driver from the ocean. If he continues this approach, this year he will have Joubert waiting for him in a sunken spot for a dump or lob — something Townes is used to from his time in Kentucky with Collie Stein.

“There are aspects of his game that we can still unlock,” Wolverhampton coach Chris Finch said of Towns. “Move him to different places on the earth, maybe put him into actions that people of his size wouldn’t do in general. That’s a luxury we have. That’s the fun part, when you think about what we can do there.”

With the addition of Gobert’s All-NBA player to keep up with former D’Angelo Russell’s All-Star and rising star Anthony Edwards, Wolves will have to figure out how to juggle on and off the court. We’ve seen a lot of NBA teams that look good on paper, but for one reason or another things just don’t translate to the field.

So how will wolves discover the age-old mystery of “there is only one ball”?

“I definitely think that’s a question you need to ask my co-worker at Chris Finch,” Townes told CBS Sports.

Towns called Finch “the genius,” so he’s less concerned about X and O than putting himself and his teammates in a position to succeed. But in the end, every player will have to sacrifice if the Wolves are to grow from an exciting young team into a true competitor, beginning with the cornerstone of their franchise. Towns demonstrated his commitment to the organization by signing a four-year Super Max extension this summer, and he wants to meet his goal of bringing a title to Minnesota.

“I sacrificed on every level. I sacrificed stories about myself. I sacrificed perhaps being the number one choice in college when I completely accepted the platoon system. You know, nobody does that,” Townes told CBS Sports. “I came to the NBA, I sacrificed everything I could, including my body, to try to get us to the playoffs. I sacrificed everything. I sacrificed my life. I sacrificed my time with my mother. She sacrificed public opinion of me. All for the betterment of my team. , my colleagues, their lives, and what they are trying to achieve.”

While he’s poised for a potential breakout season for the Timberwolves, Towns has no choice but to keep things in perspective after two tragic years on a personal level. His mother Jacqueline passed away in April 2020 due to complications from COVID-19. Towns said he has lost six other members of his family to the virus, including his uncle, and that it’s a “daily operation” in an effort to maintain his mental health while meeting the physical and psychological demands of being an NBA player he is expected to achieve greatness in on a daily basis.

Towns now considers himself a role model in his family, saying he went “from boy to man” the day his mother died. For him, the pressure to win basketball games and perform on the court pales in comparison to what he faces now in his personal life.

“I’m not a father yet, but my niece and nephew, they look at me as a father figure too,” Townes told CBS Sports. “I feel more pressure coming home, trying to make my nephew a man, a boy to a man, and make my niece an independent and strong woman. That’s pressure. I don’t make a jacket. I do this for a living. Something for me, this is another day on the job.

“My mental health is a daily process. I’m working on it. I’m getting stronger every day, and I thank God for giving me strength every day to keep growing and keep making these steps as a man and as a player.”

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