Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
Overall Rank: #1
Strengths: Gifted shot blocker, size and length with elite rebounding potential, terrific shooter with 3 point range, 81% free throw shooter, overall very few flaws
Towns has the ability to impact the game on offense and defense with a very diverse skill set for a freshman prospect. He has really made his mark on the defensive end blocking and altering shots at a breathtaking rate (11.5% Block Rate!). As a gifted shot blocker and proficient rebounder with the length to improve even further, Towns has the raw ability to dominate the low post. On offense the 6’11 250 pounder has good range for a big. Although he has limited post moves he does shows good touch and the vision to hit teammates for open jumpers or cuts to the basket.
Weaknesses: Lacks a refined low post game offensively, needs to add strength to his frame, could benefit from playing with more grit and fire, foul prone
Sure there are some minor imperfections here but overall Towns is a well-rounded prospect. He could certainly continue to hit the weights in order to handle the physicality of the NBA game. While showing some natural ability it will take some time before he becomes a true offensive threat on the block. The one clear advantage Okafor has over Towns is his footwork and variety of post moves on the offensive end although neither are elite athletes.
Bottom Line: Towns gets the nod over Okafor and Russell because he’s a rare low post asset who can affect the game in multiple ways. He edges them both in PER, Win Shares, Rebounding Rate and Free Throw Percentage. At the end of the day Towns checks off more boxes and affects the game on both ends. He has two coveted skills that when packaged together allow for rotational flexibility for a coaching staff and could yield an All-NBA level center: elite shot blocking ability and shooting range out to the three point line.
Usage wise, the data are pretty clear and intuitive. On a stacked Kentucky squad Towns was not asked to be an offensive juggernaut or even a go to player on that end of the court. For comparison Jahlil Okafor had a higher usage (USG% 27.6%, FGAPP 0.223) but was less efficient (PER 30.7, O Rtg 119.9).
Despite a lower eFG% and 2P% his range and pure shooting ability (FT% is a solid indicator) are excellent for a big with his level of defensive ability.
REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE:
A few things jump out here that succinctly illustrate his tremendous value and unique skill set. His ridiculous Defensive Rebounding Rate of 22.3% points to a prospect with elite rebounding potential. His Defensive Rating of 78.1 is in part due to his insane Block Rate of 11.5%! Think about that, he blocked an estimated 11.5% of the shots taken when he was on defense! Now that’s a rim protector.