Karl-Anthony Towns, coming off two consecutive All-Star appearances, is averaging a career-best 27.0 points per game this season. His 4.2 assists per game are a career high, as are efficiency numbers such as effective field goal percentage (.602, thanks in large part to 40.6% three-point shooting on an easily career-high 8.2 attempts per game).
He’s become a nearly fully realized best version of his offensive self in the Wolves’ new offensive system. So naturally, when Western Conference All-Star reserves were announced Thursday, Towns … didn’t make the cut.
Well, probably a few factors. But here’s one theory: Reserves are picked by coaches, and those coaches are increasingly paying attention to a player’s contributions on both ends of the court.
In making the All-Star team each of the previous two seasons, Towns wasn’t a great defensive player. But he at least finished each season with a positive defensive RPM even if he ranked in the bottom third of centers both years. The two true centers picked as West reserves, by the way, rank No. 2 (Rudy Gobert) and No. 5 (Nikola Jokic) in defensive RPM.
Bradley Beal, another all-star “snub,” is also dead last at his position in defensive RPM (out of 128 shooting guards) despite a tremendous offensive output.
Towns, though, would say it’s something different: a lack of respect.
“I’m desensitized to being disrespected in this league,” Towns told the Star Tribune’s Chris Hine over the weekend. “I’ve been disrespected since I came in. It’s nothing new when I didn’t see my name up there. When you’re a person who’s been disrespected like me so much, it’s something you expect honestly. You’re kind of shocked when you do get it.”
I’m not quite sure what to make of that quote, though it doesn’t strike the right notes.
But however Towns chooses to motivate himself, one would hope it results in more victories for his team. He skipped right over December and January in terms of victories he’s been on the court for — 15 consecutive losses total — which is a strong argument against him, regardless of defense.
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The NHL trade deadline is exactly three weeks away. The Wild has 10 games before that Feb. 24 mark, including seven at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild is good enough to hang around on the fringes of the playoff race until the deadline, and with any luck the next 10 games won’t be “good enough.” They’ll either be really good or really bad — providing GM Bill Guerin doubtless clarity on how to proceed with this roster.
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It seems highly unlikely, bordering on ridiculous, that Tom Brady will wind up playing for the Raiders in Las Vegas next year. But reports that the Raiders plan to pursue him if he reaches free agency are enough to pique my curiosity for what would be the NFL story of the season.
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Several top NFL players were asked at the Pro Bowl about the possibility of the league adding a 17th game to the regular season. One theme to emerge: Players who once took a hard-line stance against it would consider an extra game if other things were taken away. Among those asked about it: Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter.
“I would say they need to give us a longer offseason, shorten down OTAs,” Hunter said, per an ESPN.com story. “If they’re gonna do that, make OTAs less weeks — and give us more bye weeks during the season — that would be OK with me.”