It was inevitable that Karl-Anthony Towns would be the NBA Rookie of the Year this season.
He had won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award six straight times. Towns helped lead the Timberwolves to 29 wins this year after just 16 the year before.
So now Minnesota has had back-to-back winners of the Rookie of the Year award, with Andrew Wiggins winning it last year. That leads Timberwolves fans to believe the future of the franchise is bright, and now the Timberwolves have the No. 5 pick in the draft. It’s been since the mid-1970s that one team has had back-to-back rookies of the year, and teams with more than one to get such honor have a history of success and getting to the playoffs.
Here are four reasons why if they stick together, Towns and Wiggins can be stars and lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs and beyond.
Oklahoma City, Golden State Established Model With Young Stars
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the Western Conference Finals, and they’re led By Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Sure, they are different players at different positions than both Wiggins and Towns. But the model remains the same. Westbrook and Durant are stars at their positions and consistently put up big numbers. The same goes for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for the Golden State Warriors. They are two of the best players in the league at their positions who play off each other in a virtually perfect marriage.
The Timberwolves need Wiggins and Towns to be their star players, and consistently. They’ve each had their moments and great games individually, but Minnesota needs more games where both are playing at their best and off each other on the same night.
Wiggins, Towns Both Unselfish
Sometimes it’s almost to a fault, but Wiggins and Towns are both unselfish players. They are both willing to sacrifice individual skills and stats if it means getting a better shot for a teammate that can win a game. That was never more evident than Monday, when Towns said his favorite memory of the season was a thunderous Kevin Garnett dunk. Not one of his own plays, and he had many of them. Both Towns and Wiggins averaged about two assists per game last year while being the top two scorers for the Timberwolves. Their ability to score and get to the basket can get open looks for others. When it works well, it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
And history suggests that teams with two rookies of the year can have long-term success. The L.A. Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and they’re an annual playoff team. The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and that franchise is in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.
Despite Opposite Personalities, They Mesh Well
One area where Wiggins and Towns couldn’t be more different is their personalities. Wiggins is far-more soft spoken and prefers to lead by example. Towns is more outgoing and very well-spoken. So far, he reminds Minnesota fans a lot of Kevin Garnett in his early stages. Towns was very outspoken on Monday, saying he loves Minnesota, the Timberwolves and the legacy left behind by Flip Saunders. He said he wants to stay here long-term and while it might seem like lip service to some, most people think he’s genuine and are taking him for his word.
The ultimate key for the Timberwolves to have long-term success is finding a way to keep Wiggins and Towns in Minnesota uniforms.
Thibodeau The Right Coach To Blend Them
It’s great to have consecutive rookies of the year, but you still need to right coach to bring everything together. The Timberwolves are hoping Tom Thibodeau, a coach with a track record for success, is that guy. He stresses defense and his winning speaks for itself. Towns has said bringing in Thibodeau shows the Timberwolves are committed to winning. If anyone can find a way to make the most out of Towns and Wiggins on the court together, it’s Thibodeau.
While we’re all excited about where this franchise can go with Towns, Wiggins and Thibodeau, patience is still a must. The Timberwolves may not be a playoff team next year, but once they do get there, they’ll be a team to keep an eye on for many years to come.