Karl-Anthony Towns attempted just nine shots during the Minnesota Timberwolves Game 1 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Jeff Teague wants that to change in Game 2…and beyond.
From the Pioneer Press‘ Jace Frederick and The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski:
Jeff Teague just said the Wolves are playing into the Rockets hands when they use KAT to space the floor rather than having him post
— jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) April 17, 2018
More Teague: "Next game, we got to give them some different looks where KAT actually posts up a couple times and still be able to get our spacing with guys driving and trying to kick the ball, but we definitely have to get him a couple more touches."
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) April 17, 2018
Teague has a point here.
People much smarter than myself have pointed out that the Timberwolves too often use Towns as a spacing decoy. He runs out to the corner after spending a beat in the post or pops out above the break after setting a screen instead of jostling with guys on the block.
Some of this could be on Towns. He just might not want to pay the physical toll associated with operating in the paint all the time. More of it seems to be coaching. The Timberwolves are not a talented three-point-shooting team; they ranked dead last in three-point-attempt rate and 19th in long-range accuracy during the regular season. Towns’ 42.1 percent clip from distance lead all regular rotation players.
Still, as Teague alluded to, having Towns on the perimeter too much makes the offense predictable—particularly if you’re not going to have him face up and attack. Post-ups aren’t the way of the NBA anymore, but occasionally dumping it down low has its advantages when your big—in this case Towns—is shooting better than 51 percent and averaging more than one point per possession with his back to the basket.
Plus, the Timberwolves should be actively trying to slow down the pace of play against Houston. The Rockets don’t run particularly fast these days; they prefer to operate in the half-court. But they do hit a ton of threes. Limiting their number of possessions is a nice way to break up that point variance on the shot-selection front.
Typically, I’d say look for Timberwolves coach-president Tom Thibodeau to lean on Towns in the post more during Game 2. But Teague’s comments represent a season-long tug-of-war in Minnesota. There’s no guarantee anything changes now.