The featured image for this column is not Mr. Karl Anthony-Towns right now. I’m aware that the picture is from his college days. Frankly, I couldn’t get a free image of him in a Timberwolves jersey, but the idea for this column (including the title) sprouted in my mind back when he was playing for Big Blue Nation.
And, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice came out recently, so I thought that a nice Christopher Nolan crossover column would be cool.
Because I love Batman (especially Christopher Nolan’s Batman), I’m going to share some shitty jokes and also tease a two-series column that will have cool Batman references in the title.
So today, we have Katman Begins, which obviously is a portmanteau of Karl Anthony-Towns initials (KAT) and Nolan’s first Batman film – Batman Begins.
(SHITTY JOKE ALERT**) In The Dark Knight, Batman is pushed to his limits by the Joker. What about a longtime rival and peer of Towns – Jahlil Okafor. J-Okafor- Jokafor (Joke-a-four)?
So now for the second column of this two parter -we’re going to go to another member of the 2015 draft class that we’re a big fan of and we’re going to combine it with the newest Batman film out – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Sometime later this week, we’ll publish Dawn of Justise – yes, a column about Justise Winslow, a great, mature, defensive-minded swingman playing for a team that is one of the better teams in the East.
Now, enough with talking and previewing and let’s get into Katman.
In high school, Towns was originally part of the Class of 2015. In 2012, when he had only completed ONE year of high school, he played for the Dominican Republic Olympic Team. He learned from Al Horford, and even got a nod of respect from KOBE BRYANT! Though the DR didn’t dominate, that learning experience was invaluable.
Towns eventually reclassified to the class of 2014, won the Gatorade National Player of the Year his senior year, and was Kentucky-bound. Despite all the accolades and potential, he was ranked 9th in the Class of 2014’s ESPN 100 and was not in the conversation for the first pick.
I remember watching BallIsLife mixtapes in the summer of 2014 and seeing some footage of Towns. Sure he was a little lanky, skinny, and clumsy when he went coast to coast like a point guard. But, I was thinking – this dude is athletic enough to finish, he’s tall, defends, and man he is shooting 3s over these high schoolers! I knew I had seen someone special, but I can’t lie – I didn’t think I was looking at the top pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
So, he played on a Kentucky megateam that had so many future NBA players/former All-Americans and he didn’t get the spotlight. For most of the year, Jahlil Okafor was getting the buzz as the #1 pick – a trend that continued until about March. The wonderful thing that Calipari did was that he did not rush Towns or force him into anything. He told Towns that he would develop a back-to-the-basket post-game, and would be more developed so that he’d be ready for the NBA. To Coach Calipari’s credit, he did just that, and when Towns struggled, he would just play another NBA-worthy dude – Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein. It took Towns 6 games to reach double digits at Kentucky, and he averaged single-digit points per game prior to the NCAA tournament.
That takes us to the NCAA tournament. Towns had now established himself as a top-two pick, but he hadn’t completely taken the pole position from Okafor. Though that Kentucky team didn’t win it all, they did start 38-0 which is historical. He shot 63% from the field in 5 NCAA Tournament games, and outside of the 0-for-3 game he had against West Virginia (in which Kentucky blew out WVU by 39), he always shot at least 50%. It was in the Notre Dame game where people started to really say – this guy not only should be the first overall pick, he’s going to be an NBA star. The guy shot 10 for 13 and looked composed when Kentucky was on upset alert from a Notre Dame team led by Jerian Grant.
Then, his college career ended, and despite a good game against Wisconsin, all that you heard in his postgame interview was the pain of losing and zero gloating over what he and the team had accomplished.
Now here we are, where he’s playing interchangeably in the NBA at power forward and center. We’ve seen his versatility on the offensive and defensive ends, he’s competitive, defends, has a high basketball IQ, is athletic, and most importantly, he’s hungry. Since a 14 and 12 double-double debut against the Lakers, he hasn’t looked back. When doesn’t watch his own highlights, he thinks he plays like shit every time they lose, and he’s constantly working on things he messes up on to ensure that he doesn’t make a mistake twice. Playing in Minnesota also fits his personality perfectly – he’s not seeking the spotlight, it’s kind of cold so he stays inside and gets to be by himself more, and he’s also learning from Kevin Garnett – one of the best power forwards to ever play the game.
People are comparing the Wiggins-Towns (maybe Lavine+Muhammed+Rubio) to the young pair (or trio?) that Oklahoma City got through the lottery. Though I think Wiggins is a solid player, I think Towns has the drive and skill that furthers his ceiling. If the Timberwolves will be a real contender, they are going to be led by Towns. He’s the runaway favorite for rookie of the year, and he looks better every game. Thank god we can watch this dude for another 10-15 years. He’s putting up a double-double and is super fun to watch on both ends – just imagine how he’ll be in his prime.
So, Katman begins, and I guess soon, he’ll begin to rise….
Check back in soon for the Justise Winslow column!