Timberwolves Have One Last Chance to Win with Karl-Anthony Towns

Photo: Jordan Johnson - Getty Images

Chris Finch has been given an extremely tough assignment in his first head coaching job. Fix the Minnesota Timberwolves and do it quickly. The consistent path to success that Gersson Rosas has preached since arriving in the Twin Cities goes through Karl-Anthony Towns. Design a winning team around KAT. That’s it, that’s the plan. Ryan Saunders couldn’t get that done and now it’s on Finch to figure out.

If KAT can’t become a true NBA superstar and the Wolves can’t start winning games consistently, it’s beginning to feel more like when, not if, Karl will demand out. That would be a terrible look for Rosas and the franchise as a whole. The Timberwolves likely have just one more chance to win with Karl, before blowing everything up (again).

Is there hope left to win with KAT?

While we’re on the “blowing things up” topic, let’s stay there. Perhaps Towns winning in Minnesota just isn’t meant to be. Maybe moving on could eventually make sense for all parties. Why continue wasting time with a player you can’t build around? Here is the Wolves record year by year since drafting Towns.

  • 2015-16: 29-53
  • 2016-17: 31-51
  • 2017-18: 47-35
  • 2018-19: 36-46
  • 2019-20: 19-45
  • 2020-21: 7-29
  • Total: 169-259, 0.395 W/L%

Keep in mind, the 2017-18 season was fueled largely by Jimmy Butler. As soon as he left, the Minnesota Timberwolves resumed business as usual.

There is no denying that Towns is an excellent basketball player and a top five center in this league. Despite that, the Wolves trying to build around him has been a complete failure so far. We know patience is very low for Towns and he is tired of losing.

Finch has a history with maximizing centers.

But let’s not give up yet. Gersson Rosas has always wanted Chris Finch to be his head coach and the reasons why are obvious. An excellent blog over at Canis Hoopus explained why Finch was largely responsible for the recent explosion of Nikola Jokic. If anyone is going to maximize Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, it’s going to be Finch.

The first year Chris Finch started coaching in Denver, Jokic saw a big jump in some key statistics (according to Basketball Reference).

  • Usage rate: 19.8% to 23.5% (+3.7)
  • Field goal attempts: 7.5 to 11.7 (+4.5)
  • Effective field goal%: .535 to .605 (+70)
  • Assist%: 18.1% to 28.8% (+10.7)
  • Win shares: 6.7 to 9.7 (+3)

Jokic got the ball more often and in better positions. Because of that, he was able to generate more points, assists, rebounds, and become a winning player. The expectations for KAT are high, but they need to be. If the Wolves want to win with KAT then they absolutely need him to become a true superstar like Embiid or Jokic.

How much time do the Wolves have?

KAT has already expressed his frustration. If you’re a star in the NBA and you request a trade then you’ll get traded. Is it only a matter of time until the breakup? The Wolves desperately need a few things to go right in the second half of this season for Towns to be hopeful about a future in Minnesota.

First, Towns needs to become the absolute focal point of the offense without a doubt. He currently ranks 50th in the NBA in usage rate which is just unacceptable. If you’re going to commit to building around Towns he has to be top 20 if not top 10 for the rest of the year.

Second, the Wolves have to play with a full roster and succeed. We’re still yet to see Towns/DLo/Beasley play with each other so it’s hard to make conclusions about that core. No duo between the three of them has won without the third leg, but maybe something crazy happens when the trio finally hits the floor together.

If the Timberwolves can’t, at least, show signs towards progress in this second half and the Towns/DLo pairing doesn’t work, I don’t expect KAT to hang around for long. The Timberwolves have one final chance to make this work.

Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan

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