Just How Good Has Karl-Anthony Towns' Rookie Season Been?
We have been spoiled by rookies in the NBA.
We now expect players to perform like veterans by the time they are 20 years old. Fortunately for us, that is exactly what Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has done.
Over the course of his rookie season, Towns is averaging 17.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and he also has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 23.06. Numbers like these are why he is the leading candidate to win the Rookie of the Year award. The 20-year-old has already won three Rookie of the Month Awards so far this season.
According to our in-house nERD metric, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make a league-average team over a full season as a starter, Towns (6.2) is Timberwolves' best player.
What can be scary to other teams is that, like most rookies, Towns is still continuing to improve.
Over his past 19 games, he is averaging 20.1 points and 12.2 rebounds. If he could sustain that pace for the rest of the season, Towns would end his rookie campaign with game averages of 18.1 points and 10.8 rebounds. There are only seven other people to average those numbers in the entire three-point era in their rookie seasons.
This isn't bad company for Towns to start his career with. Obviously, this is if he can keep his pace throughout the season, but his stats are up there with some all-time greats.
When looking at PER, Towns ranks fourth all time among rookies. The only people ahead of him are Arvydas Sabonis, Michael Jordan, and David Robinson -- even more good company to be with to start a career.
This doesn't necessarily translate into historical success, but Towns is averaging 85% from the free throw line. In the last 35 years, the only other rookie power forward/center to top that is Kristaps Porzingis (85.5%), who is also a rookie this season. While free throw shooting percentage may not be the most important stat, it helps show that Towns has few flaws to his game.
His all-around talent recently won him the All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. Again, this isn't necessarily a prestigious accomplishment, but it shows his ability to handle the ball and showcase his other skills besides just rebounding and scoring.
What we are seeing out of Towns is nothing short of incredible. The 20-year-old out of Kentucky is off to a great start and is poised for a long and successful career. Hopefully, he can continue to improve because something special may be happening right before our eyes.