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You Betcha: Karl-Anthony Towns and Minnesota’s Bright Future

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On yesterday’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Bill ran down his NBA awards ballot with House. Their discussion about Rookie of the Year turned into a celebration of a young team on the rise, the Timberwolves. During that portion of the show, excerpted here, they compared Karl-Anthony Towns to an all-time-great, silky-smooth big man and basked in the overall glow emanating from the Land of a Thousand Lakes. Check out the entire episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher. This transcript has been condensed and lightly edited.

Bill Simmons: House, I have my awards ballot for All-NBA, and I thought we could talk it through. … I’m just going to bounce some stuff off you. You can just be my shit detector for my ballot. Ready?

Joe House: I’m listening.

B.S.: Rookie of the Year, I think [Karl-Anthony] Towns. I think he’s had one of the greatest rookie seasons in a while. I was actually kind of startled by how good he was. It dawned on me watching Minnesota win in Oakland last week, and Towns kind of took over in overtime — is it fair to say he’s very C-Webb 2.0-ish?

J.H.: Oh, I like that. I like that a lot.

B.S.: He had one drive in that game, in OT, when he was in the 3-point line and he did one of those C-Webb meanders into the lane, switched hands, kind of off-balance, herky-jerky layups. You know that was, like, the signature C-Webb play.

J.H.: The surprising thing with that is we didn’t get to see all of that on display when [Towns] was at Kentucky.

B.S.: Right.

J.H.: He was always fluid with the ball in his hands down low, inside the free throw line. But that’s a complicated move that you just described there, that old C-Webb move.

B.S.: And he can post up. C-Webb, his post-up game was basically the jump hook, which he would just do in a variety of ways. He had a nice little 15-footer, which Towns has, he was a great passer — so is Towns — very good defender. … I could never figure out who Towns reminded me of, and that was the game I was like, “Oh, there’s some C-Webb potential here.” So I looked up rookies that average 18 points, 10 and a half rebounds, and had a PER of over 21 since 1984: Towns, Hakeem, David Robinson, Shaq, Duncan, and technically Blake Griffin, but he sat out his rookie season, then his rookie season was his second season. Those are the six names. That’s a pretty nice list, House.

J.H.: That’s a great list. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. … The thing that I’ve been most impressed by with Towns, and we haven’t even talked about it yet, is his defense. The defense is the thing that you can’t really teach. You either have a nose for it or you don’t have a nose for it, and that was the thing I thought was most impressive about him early on in his tenure in the National Basketball Association. But those are very mature offensive statistics that you just described there.

B.S.: I know. If C-Webb and Rasheed Wallace had a baby, and that baby was allergic to marijuana, I think it would’ve been Towns. That’s my takeaway on Towns. I love that guy.

This piece originally appeared in the April 14, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.