By: Drew Mahowald
I don't need to go into too much detail on Karl-Anthony Towns.
After all, this is a Minnesota Timberwolves blog, and those who stop by this website are probably aware of who he is and how unearthly amazing the dude is.
But since he's a fun topic, I'll go into a little bit of detail.
Towns, the first overall selection by Minnesota in the 2015 NBA Draft, is a robot. He's too perfect too be a human being. Sooner or later, the NBA will figure it out and ban him from the league. But for now, we'll keep this little secret to ourselves.
As a rookie, 'KAT' placed himself in elite company. However you want to look at the numbers he registered, he ranks right up there with the best rookie big men to ever throw on an NBA jersey, including the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and David Robinson.
The statistics back up the claim, too. Towns is one of just three rookies in NBA history to register per game averages of 18 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field and recording a PER of 22 or better. The other two players are O'Neal and Duncan.
Olajuwon didn't do that. Robinson didn't do that. Patrick Ewing didn't do that. (Insert any other all-time great big man here) didn't do that.
However, Towns' rookie season is now in the past. The hype he garnered from that rookie campaign will undoubtedly carry over into his sophomore year as a pro -- and rightfully so. With soaring expectations, a new head coach and playoff ambitions, what will Towns give us for an encore in his second year?
Well, in case you forgot already, let's remember that Towns is actually a robot. He possesses too perfect of a combination of basketball talent and personality to be a human being. So let's get that out of the way first.
In all seriousness, there is no reason to believe this kid won't improve upon his rookie season in Year 2. He possesses nearly every skill required to be a successful big man in today's NBA on both sides of the ball -- and he consistently flashed these skills as a 19- and 20-year-old dude.
Offensively, he can score facing the hoop, with his back to the hoop, from the block, from mid-range and from the perimeter -- not to mention his incredible court vision as a passer and ballerina-like footwork when performing post moves. And the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year managed to display this array of skills in an efficient manner. His 22.5 PER rating ranked 13th in the entire league among players who logged 1000 minutes.
Defensively, Towns made it known that he will be a force to be reckoned with for a long time. His alien-like wingspan helped him become a widely-feared rim protector. Additionally, the 7-footer also showed on multiple occasions that he is capable of switching onto a guard on putting the clamps on. Just ask Bradley Beal or two-time league MVP Steph Curry. Statistically, despite playing on one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, Towns maintained 2.8 defensive win shares, good for Top 50 in the league and tops on the Wolves.
So how can this 20-year-old robot get any better?
New head coach Tom Thibodeau, known for his defensive expertise, will undoubtedly make significant improvements to Minnesota's defense, which will only help Towns individually. Thibs-coached teams have a history of performing at an elite level on the defensive end and, while it may take a few years for the young Wolves to get to that level, steady improvement is inevitable.
Additionally, Thibodeau's offensive system should assist in Towns' development too, namely by utilizing his passing skills. Joakim Noah made a living playing for Thibodeau in Chicago by dishing back door passes for layups and handing the ball off to perimeter players for open shots. Towns should have the opportunity to take on that role throughout the season, which will only open other opportunities for his aforementioned scoring abilities.
And it's worth repeating -- Karl-Anthony Towns is 20 years old. It's almost incomprehensible to think about, but he's only going to get better as he gains experience and as his teammates continue their own development.
The encore Towns presents us during his sophomore season will be similar to his rookie campaign -- jaw-dropping, fantastic and probably historic. Only this year, more experience, prestigious coaching and improved play from teammates will elevate his game even further.
I'll leave you with Towns' own words, from a response to Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press, in which he gives a sneak preview of what Timberwolves fans can expect from himself and his team in the near future.
"A lot of people tend to think we're the Timberwolves and we're at the bottom of the barrel. I just want people to know that we're coming. Just remember us, because where we were the last 13 years, things are going to change."
Drew Mahowald is an editor and writer for On The Prowl. He also serves as an assistant editor for NFC North Barroom, where he covers the Minnesota Vikings. You can follow him on Twitter at @DrewMahowald.
All stats used are courtesy of basketball-reference.com.