The Minnesota Timberwolves have, at times, looked like a team poised to make a leap into playoff contention this season. Led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell (currently out with an ankle injury), the young Wolves have some terrific individual offensive weapons and their defense has come together in a way few anticipated prior to the season.
However, there are nights like Wednesday against the Jazz where Minnesota is too easily bothered by defensive pressure from opponents, leading to outcomes like a 136-104 loss to drop them to 11-14 on the season. Against the Jazz, Towns had 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on 7-of-11 shooting, a solid stat line but one that also highlights one of the issues Minnesota can run into. When teams send doubles at Towns, he is a willing passer, but the Wolves are a team that needs him taking more than 11 shots in a game, particularly if Russell isn’t on the floor.
After the loss, second-year star Anthony Edwards explained the message he tried to send to Towns at halftime, which was to stop waiting for teams to send the double and attack a mismatch like Bojan Bogdanovic quicker.
Anthony Edwards discusses how KAT needs to deal with double teams. “You gotta go quick.” Don’t wait for the double to come. He used Embiid as an example of going quick. Ant said it was disrespectful that Utah defended Towns with Bojan Bogdanović + Karl needs to kill every night. pic.twitter.com/kXhEiTl4qZ
— John Meyer (@meyerNBA) December 9, 2021
“I told KAT the best way to beat it, you gotta go quick. I told him at halftime, you waitin on the double. You tellin them yeah come double me. Now you the best player on the floor, they takin you out of the game. Then when the double you, they not rotatin, they stayin with me and making everybody else beat you. So I just told him, like, you gotta go quick. I told him this, you watch Joel Embiid, you have to double Joel Embiid — there’s nobody in the league that can guard him — so he goes quick. You can’t double him cause he catches and goes quick. So I told KAT, you catch the ball and you holdin it like you waitin for the double. Tellin them come double me instead of just catching and going. They can’t guard you. It’s disrespectful for them to put No. 44 on you. That’s disrespectful. He know. He know he gotta kill all of them. He’s the best player on the floor every night.”
It’s something that isn’t a new request of Towns, who teammates and coaches have often wanted to be more assertive and try to dominate, but this is also the most supportive way to make that argument — the opposite of the Jimmy Butler method, if you will. Edwards isn’t challenging KAT’s manhood or will to win or anything like that, he’s simply trying to gas him up by saying you’re the best player on the floor, go dominate. Edwards is right that putting Bogdanovic on Towns shouldn’t be a viable defensive gameplan for a team, and it’s incumbent on KAT to attack that mismatch until the other team changes strategy, rather than letting that work. With that message now coming from a place of positivity, hopefully for Minnesota it will be received as such and lead to an even better version of Towns, which would be rather scary for the rest of the league.