This is just the beginning for Karl-Anthony Towns.
With every soaring block, splashed jumper, and canny interior finish, it’s hard to believe that the Minnesota Timberwolves big man is just a rookie. He defies all expectations of what a first-year player should look like in the NBA. Towns, even more than his prodigious level of talent suggests, is a guy who plays and acts well beyond his years.
But even the most polished 20-year-old in the NBA isn’t above a bit of youthful fun.
In this Q&A with DIME, the Rookie of the Year frontrunner talks Call of Duty Black Ops 3; what he’s learned from playing with Kevin Garnett; the evolution of his ultra-versatile game; whether it’s difficult for he and his young teammates to remember that better times are ahead; and much more.
It’s a foregone conclusion by now that Towns will be a star. He already plays like one on an almost nightly basis, in fact. But the extent of his greatness still very much remains to be seen, just as the career trajectory of all players in their basketball infancy can’t be completely known until it’s over. After getting a first-person glimpse at his unceasing desire for success and obviously tireless drive to improve, though, let’s just say we’re more confident than ever that Towns will grow into the league’s next great big man – and that it could happen even sooner than many of his staunchest advocates are anticipating.
DIME: You’ve been playing Call of Duty since its first version came out all those years ago, and just finished livestreaming the new “Awakening” download for Black Ops 3 with Andrew Wiggins. Are there any specific advancements in this new release that has you, as a longtime gamer, especially excited?
Karl Anthony-Towns: The maps are amazing. They did a great job of making the maps very fun and enjoyable, and all the maps are different. It was a really, really fun map pack that I think the fans are really gonna love.
I was keeping an eye on Twitter as you guys were doing the livestream, and came across a tweet from Alan Horton, a Timberwolves radio broadcaster, that included Wiggins telling you that he was “a straight killer” and you have the “all-around game.” To non gamers, can you explain what Wiggins meant by that?
(laughs) Wiggins was talking more about how I was doing everything for my team – trying to clear objectives and everything. And that he was far more focused on trying to get kills. So, I more team-oriented than he was, I guess (laughs).
The Timberwolves are obviously a young team. Zach LaVine told me in the fall that you guys constantly play video games on the road and really whenever you get a chance. Are you comfortable calling your team the best gaming squad in the league?
Uhhh… I mean, I always have confidence in everything I do. But you might have to ask someone else on the team to get a better answer (laughs).