Except for the recent 3 win streak against Suns and Lakers – none of them with a true force inside the paint – the last time KAT picked up fewer than 3 fouls was on December 17th.
Looking at the games when he committed 5 or more fouls, there are clearly two types of opponents that led him to overreact, exceeding in energy on both sides of the floor.
Spurs (20.2 points per game in the post, 1st in NBA) and Pels (15.8, 5th in the league) are two post-ups powerhouses. Mavs (1.25 points per possessions scored by the roll man in pick and roll situations, 1st per efficiency) and Nets (0.93 PPP created from the ball handler, 4th) built their offense on the pick and roll.
Towns verticality is good, he’s putting his body on drop coverage and challenging his man in the right way until he lowers his arms.
These foul troubles keep going on since the beginning of the year (considering Towns career, it’s a thing that has never been totally solved), but do they have equal weight throughout all the segments of the season?
THE DEFENSE IN THE RESTRICTED AREA HAS BEEN AWFUL
After Covington first month with the Wolves, what was looking like an unprecedented boost in the Wolves defense within the 5 feet from the rim has been gradually normalized. However, on December 31st (last game before Covington remained out indefinitely) they were allowing 62.3 percent of the field goal made in the restricted area: nothing special, but something to stay in the top 15 defense (12th in the NBA)
In January, the Wolves are giving up 70.5 percent in the RA, the worst point-blank defense in the NBA. It is not just a matter of size that allowed Sixers and Mavs to dunk 18 times combined with barely no protection of the rim.
This is “stack 4”, an easy call for a pick and roll and a second ball screen at the free throw line.
On these mid ball screens and in many other situations, Covington would do a good job, being in a “plug” to stop the drive and just helping to live with better shots to defend.
SOMETHING IS CHANGING?
The three areas where KAT is picking up more fouls are: setting up ball screens (offensive), lowering his arms on drop coverage (defensive), battling in the post (offensive).
In the last three games, the most positive defensive trend is Saunders trying to take a little bit less care of doubling from the elbow or mid post, where frequently Towns opponents were starting to pound him in the post, for defending way better above the break from 3.
We can talk about a real change when the Wolves will guard the right spots on the floor for more than a week. But this is helping KAT to channel his energy, getting less frustrated or stressed in these three areas; and it is actually a good strategy.