Introspective off days are key to Karl-Anthony Towns' improvement
MINNEAPOLIS--Off days are rare for NBA players. Between games, travel and practice, a day with nothing on the schedule is something to cherish. The Timberwolves' last such day was Jan. 8, and rookie Karl-Anthony Towns used it to relax, enjoy a ni...
MINNEAPOLIS-Off days are rare for NBA players. Between games, travel and practice, a day with nothing on the schedule is something to cherish.
The Timberwolves' last such day was Jan. 8, and rookie Karl-Anthony Towns used it to relax, enjoy a nice breakfast and take a hard look at himself and his performance.
"I looked back at myself," he said, "thought about all the teachings that (Kevin Garnett) had given me."
In the four ensuing games, Towns averaged 26 points on 63-percent shooting, 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as the Wolves went 3-1.
Garnett, he said, stressed taking simple shots and, when possible, lessen stress on the body. Don't be a bruiser in spots where bruising isn't required.
"Just finding ways to preserve myself," Towns said.
That includes finding different ways to score, such as in the first quarter of the Wolves' win over Dallas last Monday, when Towns was backing down Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes in the post. Towns took a few dribbles, then pivoted on his right foot, took off of his left and buried the turnaround jumper.
"Those are shots, if you're hitting, it makes the game a lot more easier," Towns said.
Since the off day, Towns is averaging 1.5 points per field goal attempt - a .3 points per attempt increase over the first 37 games of the season.
"Just hitting shots, finding different ways," Towns said. "Things take time. Everything comes with a different way. Right now, just finding ways to score the basket at an efficient rate."
Other tactical adjustments for included making himself more difficult to double-team in the post by deepening the position where he catches the ball and attacking the rim to put pressure on the defense.
"I like that he's driving the ball to the basket and finishing well," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I love his aggressiveness."
Towns has been at his peak early in games of late, 11.5 points and four rebounds over the past four games. Towns said it's the most aggressive he's been offensive in a while.
"Just wanted to do what I can to get us W's and make it as easy as I can for us as a whole to try to get wins," Towns said. "I felt that me being more aggressive in the first quarter would help us a little more, and I'm glad that it's been working so far. I'll keep riding the train."
All of the changes are largely the result of that one off day Towns spent resting, reflecting and studying.
"Just wanted to make sure I could be the best player (I can be)," Towns said. "You've got to think about everything."
For Towns, off days are "special." He said it finally gives players the time to think about where they want their path to go next.
"Obviously, we need rest. We're not robots," he said. "We're humans still, so to have these days where we can really relax the mind and body, you find those days being the ones where you find yourself the most."