Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky’s Towns Says It Would Be a ‘Blessing’ to Go No. 1 in NBA Draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves
NEW YORK — Karl-Anthony Towns won’t be playing his NBA games at Madison Square Garden after all.
Not until he visits the Big Apple, anyway.
The 6-foot-11 former Kentucky and St. Joe’s-Metuchen star could possibly be wearing a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey next season after the Wolves won the NBA Draft lottery and the rights to the No. 1 pick in the June 25 NBA Draft.
Not since Orlando won the right to pick Dwight Howard in 2004 had the NBA’s ultimate game of chance came out in favor of the team with the best odds. The Timberwolves had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick after finishing 16-66.
“It would be a blessing and an honor to even have a chance to play for Minnesota and be able to have the chance to play for a great organization and learn from a great mentor like Kevin Garnett,” Towns told SNY.tv at the lottery.
Asked if he was ready for the cold weather in Minnesota, Towns cracked a broad smile and said, “Of course, I’m from Jersey. We’re used to snow, we’re used to cold weather.”
The Lakers pick No. 2 in the Draft, the 76ers pick third, while Towns’ hometown Knicks dropped to fourth.
“Wherever he goes he’s going to make a team better,” Ed Bright, Towns’ AAU director with Sports U, told SNY.tv. “As a local guy of course you’re disappointed that the Knicks aren’t at least the second team. Here’s a kid that worked really hard and deserves a lot of good things.
“You never know, maybe the Knicks can make a deal. You don’t know how things are going to work out. It’s a long way between now and the NBA Draft.”
Still, the Wolves will have their choice between the two dominant big men, Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor to pair with a young roster that includes NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and point guard Ricky Rubio.
“I’m not only happy for myself, I’m happy for the Minnesota fans because they’ve been so loyal and so patient with us,” Wolves majority owner Glen Taylor said. “It’s been such a difficult year with all the injuries we’ve had.
Taylor said Wolves President and coach Flip Saunders now faces the kind of pressure to make the right pick that any team would want.
“I think that Flip Saunders was probably up until this moment wishing he would get this,” he said. “Now that he has it, I think it is a lot of pressure just with our young team. We have to find a young guy that will work in and complement the other guys.”
Taylor believes Garnett could serve as a role model for Towns.
“He was the first person that we drafted when we bought the team, and I just think that his ability to be there with these young guys is to motivate them and tell them how hard it is to work towards it and to get to the championship, which he has and we haven’t,” he said. “I think it will be a great thing.”
Towns could be the next great thing for the Wolves.
Charles Barkley and Reggie Millerhave already chimed in and said they believe Towns should be the No. 1 pick and they are not alone.
Former UCLA star Don MacLean, the all-time leading scorer in the Pac-12 and at UCLA, has been training Towns in Los Angeles and said he’s “blown away” by Towns’ ability both to step out and shoot it and score in the post.
“I’ve been doing this for 11 or 12 years pre-draft,” he told SNY.tv. “Because I had a lot of top 10 picks and a lot of really good players, I’m not really impressed or blown away. I had Towns all last week and I was blown away. Blown away.
“A kid that big but shoots it that well but handles it that well and understands the game, that’s coachable, that wants to get better, wants to be great, I was blown away by him last week.
“Am I a little biased? I’ve known Jahlil because I’ve done Adidas nations forever. Jahlil’s a great kid and a great player but I just think he doesn’t have as much to his game as Karl has.”
Photo: Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.