Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns had nine field goal attempts against the Houston Rockets in his first postseason appearance.
Minnesota had five wins and six losses when Towns had less than 10 shots during the regular season. They were 14-28 (.333) when the big man took nine or fewer attempts last year and 7-10 (.412) when he was a rookie.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe spoke about the confusing decision by head coach Tom Thibodeau for the Timberwolves during a recent episode of his podcast (via The Lowe Post):
“It’s the most fascinating question of the playoffs so far and one that is clearly a subject of some internal disagreement in Minnesota. And that’s not just reading public comments: that’s a real thing.”
He ranked fourth on his own team in usage during the regular season among those in the regular rotation. During the first game of the postseason, his usage rate fell to seventh on the Timberwolves.
James Harden spoke about the issue Towns faced against his team during their recent matchup (via Houston Chronicle):
“We all know KAT didn’t get his touches like he wanted to. He’s going to come out looking to be extra aggressive.”
Towns is an amazing scorer near the basket, shooting 68.4 percent within five feet of the rim during the regular season. This ranked Top 10 (minimum: 400 field goal attempts in this zone) just behind superstar players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
But he averaged just 6.5 post-ups per game despite averaging 1.02 points per post-up possession, according to Synergy Sports. This effectiveness trailed just four players (minimum: 100 post-up possessions) during the regular season.
Thibodeau has often explained that Towns needs to more actively want the ball. Lowe explained that the team does not know how often Towns wants to post up and be physical in the paint.
The big man will often run to the corner on offense rather than attacking the paint, which Lowe believes is a deliberate decision by the coaches. But his teammate Jeff Teague has commented that it hurts their offense when he is on the corners and not in the post.
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects Towns to score “a lot more” during their next game. He will undoubtedly get more attempts in his next appearance this evening.