PHOENIX – Karl-Anthony Towns was 100% sure that he wasn’t 100% from three-point range in the Timberwolves’ 111-106 loss to Phoenix in Tuesday’s preseason opener.
He just wasn’t totally sure how many were off.
“I missed, what, five of them?” Towns said.
Then after he was told he was 3-for-8 — not a bad percentage at .375 — he shook his head and said: “I expected better.”
The Wolves are making a concerted effort to shoot more three-pointers this season, and they are on track to do that after taking 39 of their 93 shots from beyond the arc Tuesday in the first look at their revamped offense.
They averaged 28.7 attempts last season, fifth fewest in the NBA. If they had averaged 39 per game last season, they would have been second in the NBA in three-point attempts. Only the high-volume Rockets, who launched 45.4 per game, would have had more — and it’s no coincidence new Wolves President Gersson Rosas was hired away from Houston.
So it follows that if the Wolves are taking more threes as a team, Towns will take more as well. Both he and coach Ryan Saunders said that is likely to happen this season.
“I love getting people involved in the game and stuff, but you also have to understand what your team needs and I need to shoot,” Towns said. “So I’ve got to do what’s best for us and what’s best for us is being aggressive at all times.”
If what’s best for the Wolves means shooting more threes, that’s what Towns will do. Among Wolves players who appeared in at least 20 games last year, Towns was the team’s best three-point shooter at 40%.
It was the second consecutive season Towns has eclipsed 40% from deep after shooting 34% his rookie season. He also took more threes per game than he did in any season, attempting 4.6 on average. Towns averaged 17.1 shots overall.
On Tuesday, eight of his 13 field-goal attempts were threes, suggesting that ratio of threes and twos he takes could balance out as the preseason and then regular season progresses.
The next chance to evaluate the work-in-progress offense comes Thursday at Golden State, which is no stranger to prioritizing quality threes and overall efficiency.
“We do [want him shooting more threes],” Saunders said. “We don’t just want to be a team that relies on one type of action though. You’ll see him a little bit in different places on the court.”
That was also evident Tuesday. Towns operated all over the floor, though he had the ball in his hands near the top of the key greasing the gears of the offense. He looked in midseason form, compiling 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in only 19 minutes.
“That’s my naturalist state,” Towns said of his role as facilitator of the offense. “Thirteen shots, even for me, I felt I didn’t shoot a lot of time when I should have and got someone open. I still want to do what I love to do, which is get people involved in the game and try to make everyone better, but at the same time for me, for us to win, I have to be aggressive and I have to shoot the ball.”
Towns won’t force his three-point attempts just to get his numbers there. The same goes for him as a shooter overall. Or as he puts it, “being aggressive but not being stupid as well.”
“I’ve seen double, triple, quadruple teams. I’ve seen it all. I’m just going to take what the defense gives me,” Towns said. “If they want to quadruple team me the whole night, I’m going to let my teammates [score], who are more than willing to go get 40 apiece.”
They can all get there quicker by shooting more threes