Karl-Anthony Towns’ tool box continues to grow.
Saturday night, in a 129-109 victory over Brooklyn at Target Center — the Minnesota Timberwolves’ fourth victory in five games and seventh in 10 — Towns had his ninth 30-point game of the season. He made 15 of 26 shots, including two of three three-pointers. He had 13 rebounds, four blocks, all while battling a nasty cold.
And he continued to show his burgeoning skill.
Being able to score from a number of different places and in a number of different ways isn’t new. Saturday here’s how it broke down: the former University of Kentucky star hit a pair of 18-foot jump shots, a short-range jumper, had five layups or putbacks, two three-pointers, an alley-oop dunk, a straight-up dunk and three hooks.
The third of those hooks, a turnaround late in a third-quarter Wolves run, was lefthanded. Towns said he has had the lefthanded hook in his arsenal for a while. But fans are seeing it more now.
“It’s something I’ve worked on a lot in my career,” he said. “I’ve always found a way not to use it. I only use it when I need to. If the defense is giving me that shot, that’s when I’m going to take it. Recently the defense has been trying to take away my right-hand hooks. So I’m taking what the defense is giving me going to the middle. It’s something I have in my back pocket when I need it.”
For a second-year player, Towns, who can also put the ball on the floor and drive, his offensive options are varied.
“He has so many different ways he can score,” Timberwolves Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s seeing a lot of different double-teams. He sees different defenders throughout the game. It’s like having a tool box. What are you going to use? He’s got the right jump hook, the left jump hook. He has the three. He can put it on the floor, he has the hesitation, he’s got a crossover. He has a lot of weapons, and it’s good.”
Even better, to Thibodeau? Towns’ growing ability to quickly react when he does draw the double-team. He had averaged 4.5 assists in the four games before Saturday. Against the Nets, Towns only had one. But don’t let that fool you, Thibodeau said.
“His biggest area of growth has been the playmaking,” Thibodeau said. “He’s making quicker decisions. Oftentimes just getting the ball out quickly lets the next guy swing it and make a play. That’s big for us.”