In a decision that won’t come as a surprise to anyone, it appears as though Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves will be named NBA Rookie of the Year on Monday. Towns, who spent his lone college season with coach John Calipari at Kentucky, was the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
It was his blend of shot-blocking, athleticism, and a smooth jump shot that excited teams about Towns coming out of college. Expectations were high, but Towns managed to exceed even the most optimistic projections when he finished the year with averages of 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
ESPN’s Marc Stein broke the news on Sunday:
The Wolves announce a Monday morning news conference in which they're expected to formally announce Karl-Anthony Towns as Rookie of the Year
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 15, 2016
For Lakers fans, seeing Towns blossom into a star so quickly isn’t easy. After all, Los Angeles, who had the second pick in the 2015 draft, were just one pick away from being able to grab the talented big man.
With Towns off the board, the Lakers selected Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell, believing that his skill set and self-confidence would allow him to eventually become a star in the league. It was a bit of a surprise pick from the Lakers, as many expected them to take Duke big man Jahlil Okafor or possibly even gamble on international man of mystery, Kristaps Porzingis.
Naturally, fans were a bit nervous when both Porzingis and Okafor burst out of the gates to start the season while Russell struggled. However, as the season went on D’Angelo became more comfortable with the NBA game and had some truly impressive performances (including the unforgettable “Ice in my veins” game against Brooklyn, where Russell dropped 39 points).
While there is no question that Towns is a very deserving Rookie of the Year (and he could very well win it unanimously), Lakers fans have reason to be excited about their young players as well.
In fact, if they can keep their pick in the draft lottery on Tuesday, the Lakers could find themselves loaded with young talent.