But if you go by the way ESPN defines trade value — a somewhat convoluted but intriguing model that factors in production relative to the amount of money a player is due to make — you can’t help but marvel at just how valuable Towns is already.
Per Kevin Pelton’s ranking of the top 50 NBA players in terms of trade value, Towns checks in at No. 6. Yes, sixth-best in the entire NBA, owing again to the fact that he’s on a rookie-scale deal but is already very productive.
Who are some players below Towns, you might ask?
Well, LeBron James is No. 7. Kevin Durant is No. 8. Fellow rookie Kristaps Porzingis is No. 9 (the Wolves are at home against the Knicks on Saturday in what should be a fun matchup between the two rising stars). James Harden is No. 10.
So yeah, you can see that’s pretty lofty company — though again, the presence of Porzingis so high up also underscores how much the value of the contract factors into the ranking.
Pelton writes of Towns:
Less than four months into his NBA career, Towns is already a top-10 value. He has put together one of the best seasons ever by a 20-year-old player in terms of box-score stats, surpassing what (Anthony) Davis did as a rookie. And Towns has three full years left on his rookie contract, which will pay him less total over that span ($20 million) than Joe Johnson is making this season ($24.9 million).
It’s also interesting that you have to go down to No. 22 to find Andrew Wiggins — in part because the deeper metrics on Wiggins are not that great.
Those were the only two Wolves on the list, though having two of the top 22 is pretty nice. Also of note: Kevin Love — the player dealt for Wiggins — was No. 34. And Jahlil Okafor, who was in the mix with Towns as a No. 1 pick candidate, is only No. 48.
You’ll need Insider to read the full thing, but it’s interesting.