Karl-Anthony Towns: How does he compare to previous Rookie of the Year winners

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Karl-Anthony Towns has deservedly been recognised as the best rookie in the NBA for 2015-16 and has claimed the trophy unanimously.

After his impressive first year in the league, the award comes as no surprise as he is one of the clearest winners to ever receive the accolade within his own draft class.

Nobody in the class of 2015 came close to Towns and really threatened to pip him. Kristaps Porzingis, despite making more noise off the court playing in the NBA's biggest market in New York, came a distant second.

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The No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft led rookies in scoring, rebounding, and double-doubles and is developing into one of the best number one picks of the past decade.

It may not even come as a shock if KAT earned a place on one of the All-NBA teams that are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

The rookie averaged 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and, 1.7 blocks per game, making him the 26th rookie in league history to average such numbers. Of the other 25 players, not a single one had a higher shooting percentage than Towns (.542).

Towns had a number of standout moments throughout the season, but his breakout game came in February when the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Toronto Raptors 117-112.

The 20-year-old recorded a career-high 35 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks, shooting 12-of-19 from the field.

The game also put the youngster in some elite company as he joined Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Webber as the only players in their 19-20-year-old seasons to have at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in a game.

This is the game where KAT's scary potential was recognised. But how does he compare to previous winners?


It would only be fair to compare Towns with former winners in his position such as O'Neal, Webber, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, David Robinson, and Blake Griffin. Historically, Towns ranks right up there with those players.

His numbers are almost on a par with the players in question, who all went on to become dominant players in the league after their rookie seasons.

Anytime you are mentioned in the same breath as players like Shaq, Duncan or "The Admiral", you know you are destined for greatness.


Towns' numbers were not just good in rookie terms, it put him among the best centers in the entire league. He ranked third in points, eighth in rebounds and sixth in blocks per game at his position.

After the All-Star break, Towns elevated his game further, averaging 20.8 points and 11 rebounds and if he maintains these numbers into the next campaign, he will become an All-Star in just his sophomore year.

The young center could well be in the MVP conversation if he continues on this trajectory for the next four or five years.

Speaking earlier in the year about the potential of Towns, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Durant was unequivocal in explaining how far the young big man can go.

"He's going to be a Hall of Famer in this league," Durant said, per Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.

It's extremely high praise from one of the league's star players, but after what Towns has produced on the court in just one year of NBA action, it is certainly warranted.

He possesses a full repertoire of skills on both ends of the floor that make him a nightmare matchup for opposing centers. Offensively, he can post-up, shoot from mid-range and behind the arc, drive off the dribble and if you think fouling him is the answer, it isn't, as he shoots an incredibly high percentage from the charity stripe for a big man (81.1 percent).

Defensively he is also tough to beat and is not afraid of contact down-low against some of the league's more physical players and his nimble footwork means he is adept at switching out to smaller guards when put in a pick-and-roll situation.

The Kentucky product has shown a real maturity beyond his years and has performed like a seasoned veteran in the league throughout a stellar campaign.

With the league becoming more obsessed with perimeter shooting, it is refreshing to see a young player mix an old-fashioned style with his back to the basket, with an ability to shoot the ball from deep.

He is the perfect modern day big man with how the game is played today and can adapt to multiple styles.

Franchise player

His development will almost certainly dovetail with the rise of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the coming years. Alongside the 2015 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio, Towns is part of the most exciting young team in the league.

After the recent arrival of Tom Thibodeau as the coach on a five-year deal, the future in Minnesota looks extremely bright.

The presence of future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett has also had a major effect on KAT and he will hope "The Big Ticket" sticks around for another year to continue mentoring him as he grows further as a dominant basketball player.

His phenomenal rookie year puts him alongside some of the best players to ever feature in the league and if he maintains this level, he'll be well on the way to becoming a superstar and among the greatest players on the planet.

Zach LaVine
Minnesota Timberwolves
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Karl-Anthony Towns
Andrew Wiggins

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