(Photo via Hoopsaddict.com)
We continue our coverage of the draft prospects for the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft by dissecting the game of Kentucky’s versatile big man, Karl-Anthony Towns.
2015 NBA Draft Prospect Evaluation:
Karl-Anthony Towns (19 years and 7 months old, Center, University of Kentucky via Metuchen, New Jersey)
Stands 7’0” with a 7’3.5” wingspan and 9’5” standing reach. Add in his weight of 250 pounds and you’ve got a guy with the physical tools to be a force near the basket on both sides of the ball.
Video highlights (courtesy JLSBasketball on Youtube:
Surprisingly agile around the basket for a big man. His lateral quickness and hands seem much more like that of a capable wing player than your typical big man. Considering how tall and long he is, his 29” standing vertical will certainly get the job done inside.
Low post offense:
Towns go-to move in the post is a hook shot, which he does well over either shoulder. It worked nearly all the time in college, but that was due in part to the fact he was bigger than just about everyone who was guarding him. In the league he’ll have to be less predictable, perhaps utilizing the solid drop step that he displayed more as his collegiate season progressed.
Outside shooting ability:
Hack-a-Karl will never be a problem for whichever team gets him, as he shot 81.3% from the line at Kentucky. He rarely shot from beyond the arc, but he was competent from the mid-range, and his solid form indicates that it wouldn’t be ridiculous to assume he could become a stretch-big within a few years. To get there he’s going to have to be much quicker with his shot. He’d usually take a pretty drastic step into jumpers, which left ample time for defenders to close out. But if he tightens that up, he’ll be a real threat out to 20 feet.
Check out the form and range on his shot in this Twitter video:
— hᎪbᏞᎬmös ᎠᎬ bᎪsᏦᎬᏆ (@krissjavier) June 1, 2015
How is he going to score in the NBA?
He’s big enough to become dominant in the post and he has the mechanics that make a mid-range game possible, but he’ll need to work on his footwork and speed up his release for that to be a consistent option. His post hook shot will likely still be his go-to, but don’t be surprised if he’s frequently catching the ball out of a pick and roll and gliding to the rim for an emphatic finish.
Low post position defense:
Towns was regarded as one of the premiere collegiate defenders last year, and while he definitely was, it’s worth noting that Willie Cauley-Stein provided a layer of cushion that no one else had. Still, he’s got the length to dissuade defenders, and while he’ll need to get a bit stronger to really be a fearsome presence inside by NBA standards, he’s well on his way.
Defending the pick and roll & perimeter
This is where Towns really excels over his competition. He’s quick, both when it comes to physical movement to the ball, but also when it comes to knowing when to switch. He closes out remarkably well for a player his size. He’s versatile enough to step out and guard much smaller players, which will be key in allowing him to function as a forward/center instead of just a pure inside presence.
Rim protection ability:
Towns averaged 4.2 blocks per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) so that should be enough to indicate players will have to think twice before driving at him. Considering his standing reach is only 7 inches short of the rim, he’ll be able to be a presence even before he jumps, which is invaluable when it comes to defending without fouling, assuming he becomes a bit more disciplined and doesn’t get over-eager for blocks.
Length is key when it comes to gobbling rebounds, and there are few prospects as long as Towns. He’s able to sky over guys and get a finger to balls that most others can’t. He does sometimes miss rebound chances due to being over-aggressive on shot-blocking chances.
A capable passer from the post, but it’s certainly not the strongest aspect of the game. He’ll likely never be a big man the offense can run through, but he also won’t be a liability.
Basketball IQ and intangibles:
There have been some questions about Towns’ maturity. Kentucky almost lost a game against LSU this past season when Towns hung on the rim and drew a technical foul. During his postgame interview, Calipari was in the midst of criticizing his big man’s decision making when Towns started making faces behind his coach. Not exactly ideal, responsible behavior, but then again, he’s only 19. He also has a tendency to get into foul trouble, mostly from being over-aggressive on shot blocking opportunities. Still, he doesn’t make poor decisions with the ball on offense and he almost always rotates to the proper position on defense.
Projected draft position:
Comparable NBA player: