Breaking down Karl Towns
The decision of Karl Towns to commit to Kentucky was by no means a surprise. A five-star center, Towns had long been rumored to be headed to the Bluegrass State. Now that it is official, here is a look at what Towns brings to the table. Offense This is the area of the floor where Towns can be so special. His skill level is truly unique for a player his size, and also Towns is a very intelligent player on the offensive end. Combining a high skill level with a high basketball IQ is always a recipe for success. Towns has a great ability to stretch a defense from the big man position. Because of that he often gets compared to players like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant, but at best those comparisons are ridiculous and more accurately they are just flat out wrong. Towns really plays nothing like those players, just happens to be about the same height and can shoot the basketball. At 6-foot-9 Towns can really make shots from three. He isn't a knock down shooter, but he can step out and be a major threat to the defense if he gets a clean look. Last year against one of the nation's premier shot blockers, Chris Obekpa, Towns took him outside of the paint and had a very productive day because he was hitting shots from deep as well as from the mid-range. What this allows Towns to do is drive the basketball as well. Especially going to his right, Towns is an impressive ball handler for someone with his size and strength. When defenders close out hard on Towns to take away his outside shot, he then just goes right by them and gets to the rim where he finishes very well despite not being an elite athlete. While his skill for a post player is what separates him from his peers, Towns is also more than capable and also more than willing to play on the low block. While his back to the basket moves are still a work in progress, he does show some ability with a drop step and then is good going mid-line with a jump hook, mostly over his left shoulder. Towns is a decent offensive rebounder, mostly because of energy and effort, and has good hands which allow him to snatch every board that he can get fingers on. Overall on the offensive end as he continues to get bigger, stronger, and more athletic Towns has the ability to be special, and even though he isn't a wing or even a stretch power forward like some are trying to project, he is a player who is an absolute matchup nightmare for opponents because he is a center with perimeter skills. Defense While Towns is elite on the offensive end, he is still refining what he can do on defense. Also the reason Towns can currently only be classified as a center is because that is the only position on the basketball court that he can guard. Not a great athlete, Towns struggles to move laterally which means he is at his best defending down on the low post and not on the perimeter. That is fine because Towns has the height, long arms, and strength to be a solid post defender which he is. At the moment Towns isn't a great shot blocker, but he does have the ability to block a shot or two from the weakside. On the ball he doesn't have the vertical explosion to be a major threat as a shot blocker, but he does play excellent position defense and knows how to push other guys off the block making their life difficult to shoot over him and try to go through him. Rebounding wise Towns is excellent on the defensive glass. He gives great effort and has that knack for knowing where the ball will come off the rim. Also his excellent hands mean he snatches the ball off the backboard and this will only improve in time as he continues to get stronger. Overall Fit This is a different type of center than what Kentucky has brought in during recent years. Most of those guys have been low block players who can occasionally step out on the offensive end. Also when looking at Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis, both are excellent to elite athletes who block shots and really run the floor, but are limited on the offensive end. Still this is a good fit, because it is impossible for there to be a bad fit for a player with Towns' elite skill level. Given that Towns can score inside and out and is also a skilled passer, he will fit in well with other weapons around him. Kentucky is getting one of the elite center prospects in the country and someone who should have an immediate impact on college basketball.