After a couple of difficult seasons, both physically and emotionally, Karl-Anthony Towns is ready to rock.
The Minnesota Timberwolves star, who played in 35 and 50 games the last two seasons, spent the offseason getting in better shape for the long, grueling NBA season. Towns, who entered last season at over 275 lbs, is down to a leaner 240 lbs. According to KAT, one of the biggest influences for his new physique is a Basketball Hall of Famer who is known for his strength and muscular build.
Karl-Anthony Towns consulted with Ben Wallace
Take one quick scroll through Towns’ Instagram account, and it’s evident the 25-year-old made working out a top priority. The 2015 first overall pick posted photos and videos of his workouts, which included everything from strength training to boxing.
“I joked all summer that I just wanted to be a G.I. Joe,” Towns said. “I took it seriously with my training like that. Just looked at it a little different than I’m usually doing.”
Towns didn’t just rely on himself and his trainers for guidance, however. The All-Star reached out to former Detroit Pistons center and Hall of Famer Ben Wallace for any workout advice he had. Big Ben, who also went by “Body”, weighed a solid 240, the same as Towns is now. While KAT didn’t divulge what specific advice Wallace told him, it’s no surprise strength was at the forefront (h/t: Star Tribune).
“I just said, ‘Hey I’m going to get big. I’m going to focus on building muscle mass and not trying to lose weight and all that stuff.’ That was my focus. Overall, I wanted to try a new body type. Really just thought this could take me to the new level.”Karl-Anthony Towns
“His body looks great,” said T-Wolves head coach Chris Finch. “He’s had a good summer. He’s got confidence. … So he seems to be in the best mental frame of mind and ready to go. That’s all you can ask.”
The new build should help KAT’s defense
Towns’ new physique will make him look better on the basketball court. But will it help him play better, particularly on defense?
With Towns stronger and leaner, Finch could deploy him in more on-ball situations to guard defenders one-on-one. He can also bully his ways through screens more effectively.
“I’ve always been top of the league in switching onto guards,” Towns said. “That’s usually been in my wheelhouse. That’s where I’m most comfortable.” He also mentioned Kyrie Irving as someone he would be comfortable guarding.
As a whole, though, Towns still has a long way to go as a defender. He boasts a career 0.0 defensive box plus/minus, meaning he is right on par with the league average defender. However, he has improved from his negative ratings from his first two seasons. Maybe another call with his consultant Wallace, who owns four Defensive Player of the Year Awards, can help Towns become a true two-way threat.
Towns is motivated to help the Minnesota Timberwolves
KAT’s new commitment to fitness and willingness to improve defensively is music to the ears of T-Wolves fans. The franchise is attempting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and the second time since 2005. But for someone who dropped 50 lbs from COVID-19 and lost his mother and other family members to the virus, Towns is more motivated than ever.
“This is a big season for me,” Towns said. “I’ve just got to go out there and get it done. I’m prepared to give everything I have. I plan to do that. I’m more than prepared. And to top it off … I’m ready. I’m mentally ready for this season. So it’s much different than how I felt coming in last [season].”
Towns has put up All-Star numbers consistently in Minnesota. The 6-foot-11 center has averaged around 23 points and 11.5 rebounds in his first six seasons, with two All-Star appearances and an All-NBA selection. But while he has put up impressive numbers, other similarly-aged stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Devin Booker, and Nikola Jokic have also achieved team success on top of personal accolades.
If the new-look Towns can become more like Ben Wallace from a defensive side, while still being a multi-faceted offensive weapon, the T-Wolves can become a bigger threat to the rest of the league.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.