One year after Andrew Wiggins became the first Minnesota Timberwolves player to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, teammate and former University of Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to make it back-to-back winners at a Target Center news conference Monday morning.
The Wolves on Sunday said they would make a “major NBA announcement” at noon Eastern time Monday.
The NBA will officially announce the balloting results earlier Monday, likely adding Towns to a list of already-announced award winners that includes Golden State’s Stephen Curry as repeat league MVP and Steve Kerr as Coach of the Year, Portland’s C.J. McCollum as Most Improved Player, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard as Defensive Player of the Year and R.C. Buford as Executive of the Year and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford as Sixth Man of the Year.
Wiggins and Towns would become the first to win the award consecutively from the same team since Buffalo’s Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio won back-to-back in the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.
Towns won the Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month award every month from November to April, and Monday’s announcement has been considered a foregone conclusion for weeks, if not months.
A question left to be answered by the NBA is whether he was chosen unanimously.
Towns played all 82 games in his rookie season, and averaged 18.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocked shots and shot 54.3 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from three-point distance while doing so.
Towns would become one of eight players in NBA history who was named Rookie of the Month in his conference in those six consecutive months. The only others make for pretty good company: Portland’s Damian Lillard in 2012-13, L.A. Clippers’ Blake Griffin in 2010-11, New Orleans/Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul in 2005-06, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and Cleveland’s LeBron James in 2003-04, Tim Duncan in 1997-98 and David Robinson in 1989-90.
Houston’s Ralph Sampson was named top rookie every month in the 1983-84 season — when only one rookie was named monthly rather than one each from the West and East conferences — but it was awarded for only five months that season.
“It’s pretty amazing for a first-year guy to come in and do the things he did,” new Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said the day after he was hired last month. “There’s obviously room for growth. But his skill set is very unusual, the touch he has on the ball. He has the potential to be very good defensively, with his rebounding, his shot blocking. The way he plays the game, the way he sees the game, he has the ability to make other players better. He had a very impressive first year, but it’s just the beginning. It’s just the start.”
In the season’s final days, Towns said the Rookie of the Year award would go where all his Rookie of the Month awards went: to his parents’ house in New Jersey.
He said he keeps with him at his own home only trophies that represent championships, such as his three high school championship rings. An exception: He keeps a ring from his lone season at Kentucky that commemorates his team’s 38-0 start that fell two more consecutive short of an NCAA title.
“I’m not a big individual-award guy,” he said eight days before the season ended. “I never keep any of mine. My parents like ’em. The only awards I keep in my house are my state high school championship rings and playing at Kentucky. If it’s not a championship, it’s not something I keep.”