Karl Anthony Towns was once seen as the next face of the NBA. He and Giannis Antetokounmpo were considered franchise cornerstones in 2017 by general managers - players they would prefer to start a franchise with. However, his career appears to be stuck while The Greek Freak has elevated his game to another level. What happened to KAT?
Flashes of early potential
In 2017, KAT was at par with Antetokounmpo. He was even ahead in terms of skills and talents - this was the belief of the majority of general managers in the league. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks were considered to be on their way to the championship because of these young stars.
Towns garnered 29 percent of the GM votes while the Bucks star received 21 percent as the player they'd choose to build around. Other players on the list? LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant. In 2016, KAT had 48 percent of the votes. Fast forward in 2020, Kawhi and LeBron won a championship, Durant is now part of Brooklyn Big 3, and Giannis just captured his first NBA ring at 26 years old. So what happened?
Karl appeared in All-Star games for two straight years. Meanwhile, his highest scoring average happened in 2016 with 25 points per game. When compared to the numbers of Giannis at 22.9 points per game, the gap seemed vast. The GMs would not be at fault for putting their faith in the Wolves player.
While his numbers remain on the star level, his team enjoyed little success. Minnesota underwent a lot of coaching changes in recent years. The changes in the system needed time to translate to the court, and players needed time to adjust to playing for a new coach and playing with new teammates. On the other hand, the Bucks also underwent many personnel changes but management had a vision and stuck to it. Every year, Milwaukee inched closer and closer to realizing that vision until they finally won it all in 2021.
The coaching carousel Towns experienced reached a climax this year.
“I’ve never had a situation like this where it’s in the middle of the season and he’d just coached against us … and now he’s our coach,” Towns said. “I’ve never seen this happen before as a fan, let alone in my career as a player. It’s just different.”
Karl-Anthony towns, Duluth News Tribune
This means while his peers are enjoying their titles and MVPs, Karl is back to the drawing board. But the former University of Kentucky alum remains a professional. Next year could be a bounce-back year for him. He is now a teammate with close pal D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards showed a lot of promise.
Aside from coaching changes, Karl also suffered various injuries, which sidetracked his progress. He battled injuries to both of his knees, wrists, and ankles in recent years. Tragedy also hit him when he lost his mom to COVID in 2020.
With all the personal and health issues he had to survive from, fans expect KAT to bounce back better than ever. At 25 years old, he still has time to prove he deserved all the hype before. With the right system and right teammates, Towns should be back again at his best.