The Golden State Warriors picked up another win Wednesday night, over the Minnesota Timberwolves, behind a huge night from Andrew Wiggins, and despite losing Draymond Green to a gnarly leg collision in the third quarter. Look ahead to Friday, when they host the Chicago Bulls in a nationally televised game before heading on the road for a swing through the Eastern Conference. That Friday-nighter should be a great game! This blog really isn’t about the Warriors. It’s about how I was forced to once again remember and reconcile the continued existence of Karl-Anthony Towns, thanks to a couple huge dunks from Wiggins, his former teammate.
My enjoyment of this NBA regular season has been tempered not at all by my having completely forgotten, once again and for like the 14th time, that Towns even exists. I am over here enjoying basketball on my television, enjoying the look of the early season standings, enjoying the chaotic repercussions of the NBA’s new handling of unnatural offensive motions; Towns is over there in the so-called “Twin Cities,” putting up his usual sullen and apathetic and utterly meaningless double-doubles, and achieving zero penetration into a single one of the season’s defining narrative arcs. On the topic of each other’s existences, we share a mutual condition of near-total oblivion. I like to think this arrangement suits him just as comfortably as it suits me.
Nevertheless, there comes an inevitable time in every NBA season, a rite of autumn not unlike the falling of the final yellowed leaf from the maple leaning over my driveway, where I must shake my head confusedly, stare into the middle distance, and remember that Towns is still out there. This was that:
Towns’s teammate, the young and exciting Anthony Edwards, put up 48 points on 27 shots Wednesday night. It distresses me to confront that it is only because of Wiggins’s huge dunks that I am even aware of that feat. The Timberwolves for all intents and purposes do not exist unless they are being dunked into hell by a member of a better team. They’re like the Washington Generals: It is their job to assemble on my television for the purpose of being humiliated, whereupon they are allowed to collect a paycheck and slink back into obscurity.
Shit, I have already forgotten who we were talking about. Was this a Warriors blog? An Anthony Edwards blog? I hear a buzzing in my ears. I must remember to pick up fluoride rinse at the grocery store later this aft—
Hey! Karl-Anthony Towns! I remember that guy! Hey, how’s he doing this year? Let’s see: 23 points a night? Check. Outrageous scoring efficiency? Check. Ten boards? You betcha. Wolves reliably winning his minutes? Nope, not even close. It remains one of the NBA’s real tragedies that a 25-year-old seven-footer can throw up 23-and-10 on 50-40-80 shooting splits like clockwork, for going on seven seasons, and never even sniff sustained relevance. Towns has played five total NBA playoff games; the Timberwolves have a crappy .410 win percentage in all regular season games Towns has played in his career; Towns has had a personal net rating higher than 1.0 in exactly one of his professional seasons. How? Why? What will it take for the Timberwolves to finally ship him off someplace where he can try his hand at professional basketball with actual stakes? And will that happen before the end of his prime years?
If this is to be yet another year of obscurity and dysfunction in Minnesota—the signs don’t look real great—I’m sympathetic to Timberwolves fans, who love their team and love their big fella and would desperately love to know what it’s like to have the attention of the basketball world centered on their team for something other than a fuck-up or poster-dunk victimization or because they are once again in the draft lottery. As a Wizards fan, I distinctly recall years of despair at my team’s ongoing wasting of the outrageous talents of another top pick out of Kentucky, who I had very much grown to love. More than once I said aloud that the team should please just trade John Wall before the end of his prime, so that he could bring the best version of himself to a competent organization and a broader audience of appreciative hoops fans. They did not. Wall’s prime came to a crashing, premature end, and his contract became a toxic asset, and now there’s a non-zero chance that his playing career is functionally over. Being a fan of one of the NBA’s outpost teams is all too often defined by this sort of heartbreak. All you can do is sit there and watch your guy break down.
Wait, what were we talking about? Hey, Andrew Wiggins put up 35 points on 19 shots Wednesday night, and the Warriors are now 10–1 on the season. Seems like it might finally be coming together for that guy. Good to see a talented youngster get an opportunity to work alongside good teammates on a good team and finally experience winning basketball.