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Karl-Anthony Towns: ‘I’m the greatest big man shooter of all time’

Karl-Anthony Towns shoots in Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 27: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a 3-pointer during the game against the Sacramento Kings on January 27, 2020 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has a reputation for caring too much about individual stats.

But when he’s right, he’s right.

Towns, via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic:

“I’m the greatest big man shooter of all time. That’s a fact. You can see the stats. I ain’t got to play like no one else. Everyone trying to find themselves to be the second version of me when I’m the first version. I don’t got to be the second version of someone else. I’m already an original. I don’t have to be a duplicate of someone else.”

Towns’ career combination of volume (four 3-point attempts per game) and efficiency (40% on 3-pointers) is unmatched among clear bigs.

“Big man” is a vague term that usually includes centers and some power forwards. A prolific bomber from beyond the arc, Wizards forward Davis Bertans (five 3-point attempts per game, 40% on 3-pointers) could make a case. So could forwards Ryan Anderson (five, 38%) and Danilo Gallinari (five, 38%).

Of course, 3-pointers aren’t the only measure of shooting. Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki (three, 38%) was excellent from beyond the arc but even better known for his lethal mid-range shooting.

Still, Towns matches up well. Long 2s (beyond 16 feet, per Basketball-Reference):

  • Nowitzki: 47%
  • Towns: 46%

Nowitzki’s slight advantage from that zone doesn’t offset Towns’ long-distance prowess.

Maybe Nowitzki, who had such a nice touch on his jumper, would have been the best big man shooter if he played in this era. There’s a relatively new emphasis on stretch bigs. Nowitzki would have had even more of a greenlight to launch from deep now.

But Towns is playing in this era and has really embraced the style. He has improved the versatility of his 3-pointer without sacrificing accuracy. There’s nothing left to the imagination. Towns excels as a shooter.

It’s safer to call Towns the best shooting center of all-time. The “big man” designation adds complications, both in determining which power forwards qualify as bigs and whether they’re better shooters than Towns.

But Towns probably wins that debate, too.