Karl-Anthony Towns’ two biggest improvements
Through the injuries and a perimeter defense that has never been adjusted since Covington’s absence, the Wolves are approaching their last 12 games of the season with nothing more to watch than Towns. Coming back from his car’s accident, he has been one of the most productive players in the NBA.
Among scorer with more than 10 field goal made per game since the All-Star break, his 67.3 percent of True shooting should impress more than saying: “how do you value these big games in multiple losing efforts?”.
His shot distribution has changed in the last 11 games. Lower frequency of mid-range attempts converted at a higher rate.
Towns is averaging 35 points per game on 60 percent shooting since the All-Star break, if raw stats still say something. The way Saunders is using him created new and better opportunities, but where these improvements started from?
When Saunders praised Towns for being smarter at picking his spots, he’s not just referring to how he’s reading pick and roll defense.
If the big stay low flat, Towns slips and pops out in one motion. As a roller, he’s more consistent at finishing. His gravity at the rim is helping him to draw more contacts. (He’s 9th in the league per “And One” opportunities)
For “his spots”, Ryan also means his favorite ones, where he usually starts and finishes the iSO plays. Towns loves to create along the baseline, now he finally has different post-up entry options, and he looks more athletic and dynamic in the dunker spot.
Quicker first step, better at changing speed off the dribble, stronger in the upper body near the rim.
He’s making meaningful progress in reading and attacking the closeouts.
Right after the Butler’s trade, Towns had to deal with hard double teams. He started to control that defensive attention from the beginning of 2019. His turnover’s rate went down, and he almost doubled his assists to four per game, up from about 2.5 before Jimmy’s deal.
He got no rush to wait for the second help, Towns mastered the over-the-shoulder pass, turned into one of his signatures moves from the post.
He expanded his passing skills also in high-low and off the cuts situations.
Unleashing Towns playmaking is an achieved goal for Saunders. The Wolves are using the post more as a vehicle for assists since Ryan’s first game, 8.5% of field goals have been assisted from the post, per NBA.com/stats.
This year, Towns is currently in the 69th percentile in the playmaking category, according to our grading database. From the 2017-18 season, you can easily detect his leap as a passer.
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