Minnesota Timberwolves’ big man Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a right calf strain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
After suffering a noncontact leg injury in Monday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, Towns did not return to the game. Although the loss is a downer for Minnesota, the franchise can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the extent of the injury isn’t worse.
Karl-Anthony Towns was nowhere near any other players or the ball, and went down grabbing his leg in a scary injury mirroring what we’ve seen many players rupture an achilles in recent memory.
“I’m not okay,” Towns said to teammate Austin Rivers when he was being helped up and off the floor.
Losing Towns for any time is a huge blow, but a calf strain is nowhere near the severity everyone was expecting when he was scanned for the MRI.
Now how does this affect the Wolves?
It doesn’t take much analysis, if any at all, to figure out Towns is one of the main sources of offense for this team. With Towns gone, the team’s offense goes as far as Anthony Edwards can drive it – and who’s to tell how much gas he has?
Edwards is already putting up career highs in scoring and true shooting percentage, but there’s still room for him to grow. The third-year wing has superstar potential on both ends of the floor, so this would be the perfect time to unlock it.
The Timberwolves have the 17th best offense in the league. 17 isn’t the most embarrassing rank, they fall a smidge (1.4 points per 100 possessions) under league average, but the issue is we’ve seen this same team peak much higher. Last year the same starting lineup with Jarred Vanderbilt in Gobert’s place was 7th in the league; 1.8 points above league average.
The team’s two biggest offensive issues both have liberty to iron themselves out in Towns’ absence. The first being the clunkiness of the big man duo. Most recently being memed in the team’s loss to the Warriors, the twin tower pair of Towns and Gobert had trouble finding real estate in the paint, which was saved partially with KAT’s spacing.
Towns’ biggest downtick in where he’s scoring from is in the paint. This season, Towns has taken the smallest percentage of shots within 3 feet in the last three seasons. You can attribute this mostly due to the team’s center not being able to stretch the floor.
Where Gobert can now settle his fit into the offense is by taking a page out of Quin Snyder’s book and spacing the floor around Gobert and using him for what he is: the best screener in basketball. The Timberwolves are flirting with being in the lower third of the league in pick-and-roll frequency, something that’s only going to climb in the next month or so.
That’s where the other issue mentioned kicks in. Maybe with more pick-and-roll actions, D’Angelo Russell will finally take his place in the offense this season. He’s had a miserable start to the year on both ends of the floor. With the game adapting more towards what fits his strengths, it could mean he can begin to find himself again.
The Timberwolves have disappointed so far, only 10-11 on the year. Not to say losing the best shooting big man of all time will make the team better, but maybe these 4-6 weeks can give the team to work some issues out.