Timberwolves Notes: Towns' passing, Bucks-Wolves rivalry?
Karl-Anthony Towns notched his first NBA triple-double in the Timberwolves’ loss on Wednesday night, while the young, up-and-coming Wolves and Bucks may end up creating an East-West border-battle rivalry.
The Timberwolves will host the Milwaukee Bucks at Target Center on Friday night. It’s a showdown between two of the best young rosters in the NBA. Outside of the Lakers and Jazz, there aren’t any other cores with such youth and talent combined.
The Bucks have been much better than the Wolves thus far this season, of course, with their record standing at an even 15-15 — good enough for the eighth slot in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. Minnesota has played better in the month of December, but still is just 10-22 on the year.
The mix of young talent and the proximity of Minneapolis and Milwaukee are the main reasons why a rare Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference rivalry could be created, as noted by Derek James at ESPN 1500.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the headliner for the Bucks, followed by third-year forward Jabari Parker, who is from the same draft class as Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, and like the Wolves duo, is only 21 years old.
Part of the reason for the Bucks’ respectable record is that the remainder of the rotation players are largely veterans: 25 year-old Tony Snell and 26 year-olds Matthew Dellavedova, Greg Monroe, and John Henson are all in the top-seven on the roster in terms of minutes. The Wolves, on the other hand, only have two players above 24 years old in their top-seven in Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio.
It should be a fun game, and here’s hoping that both teams will threaten the playoffs this year and beyond and a rivalry could actually be created.
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We’re also still on the heels of Karl-Anthony Towns’ first triple-double as a pro. His 15-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist performance on Wednesday night wasn’t enough to lead the Wolves to a win in Denver, but his willingness to pass was sight for sore eyes.
Early in the game, Towns was ever the willing passer. His teammates could have done a much better job knocking down open shots, of course, but by the end of the game, the threat of the pass helped open up some relatively easy post looks for Towns.
Indeed, a huge chunk of the reigning Rookie of the Year’s production came in the final frame, as noted by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:
Eleven of Towns’ 15 points and eight of his 11 rebounds came in a fourth quarter when the Wolves trailed by 10 points with 3:49 left and tied the score at 103 when Wiggins made one of two free throws with 58 seconds left.
Towns’ 10 assists were one more than his previous career high, set vs. Dallas late in his rookie season. His previous high this season was five, which he’s reached in four games.
“I thought he played a great floor game,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s game. “He was so unselfish. We didn’t shoot it well, but he made the right play. To have 10 assists, he was trusting the pass. I thought he made great reads.”
It was certainly a disappointing loss and a real shame to waste Towns’ triple-double. The rest of the team simply didn’t knock down enough shots.
The Wolves take on the Bucks on Friday night as they attempt to get their December back on track after a handful of disappointing losses.