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Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid headlined the MVP discussion last season, bringing the big man back into focus after years of being in the shadows behind point guards and swingmen.
From a talent perspective, Karl-Anthony Towns is in their class but wasn’t mentioned in that breath because the Minnesota Timberwolves were nowhere near the top of the Western Conference.
Towns almost seemed amused at the notion of elevating himself to that space, because he feels he already belongs.
“Even the question of asking in the same class, never been a thought,” Towns told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t even have that kind of mentality. I already know where I stand.”
It’s hard to argue. Towns averaged 24.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Timberwolves last season, shooting 49% from the field and 39% from 3 — a devastating package of talent and gifts, nearly unheard of in big men.
He would’ve been in greater conversation if his team did better than its 23-49 mark last season — one where Ryan Saunders was fired after 31 games, replaced by Chris Finch. It was team president Gersson Rosas’ first big move, even if it added to the overall instability Towns has experienced since being drafted in 2015. He’s gone from Sam Mitchell to Tom Thibodeau to Saunders to now Finch as a head coach.
“I’ve been used to it [instability] my whole career, so that is stability,” Towns said. “I only know that kind of way. Would be great to have stability and where we’re going with people you’re trying to grow with.”
It’s certainly a reason why Jokic and Embiid have a leg up in the winning department, being on teams that routinely make runs in the playoffs. Towns had one taste of it, in 2018 when the Timberwolves won 47 games and lost to Houston in the first round.
The team has gone through many iterations since, and is now in the rumor mill for Ben Simmons since he’s gone public with his trade request. While not referencing Simmons specifically, Towns wouldn’t mind having more say in terms of personnel.
It’s the way of the world in today’s NBA.
“I think it’s a two-way street,” Towns said. “I like to let people do their job, but I think sometimes the people who knows what someone needs is the person on the court. I’m gonna keep doing what I can do, especially if it leads to a winner.”
Towns and Mobil 1 are partnering up to give fans a chance to win some exclusive sneakers designed by artist Mache. With only four in existence, they can enter the Behind the Drive sweepstakes by going to GoBehindTheDrive.com, where they can sign up and learn more.