KAT Vs. KP: Who You Got?

By Jason Gonzalez

Basketball phenoms Karl Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis are just 20 games into their third year in the league. With that being said, both players are now on the precipice of superstardom. Towns and Porzingis are big men with similar games that were drafted in the same year [2015]. Towns went to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first pick, while Porzingis went fourth overall to the New York Knicks.

That year the Timberwolves finished the season 16-66, while the Knicks sported a ledger of 17-65. The difference of just one game determined the team placement of each player. Had the records been in reverse, Towns would have been a Knick and Porzingis would have possibly been on the Timberwolves.

As it stands now both men are linked to each other and future comparisons to each other will be made.

So who’s better? Who would you choose if you were to start an NBA franchise? Do you go with the 22 year-old, 7’0 foot 248 pound Towns, whose accomplishments include rookie of the year honors. Or do you go with the 22-year-old native of Lativa, who stands at 7’3, 240 pound Porzingis, whose game is strikingly similar to future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki. Porzingis made the all-rookie first team, and is a skills challenge champion.

We will start with Towns, let’s look beyond the numbers: The Tom Thibodeau coached Timberwolves are now 12-8 in the much more competitive Western Conference. Small forward [2014] Andrew Wiggins of Kansas University and the newly acquired Jimmy Butler round out the core to compliment Towns’ game under the basket. Town’s 2017-2018 average is as follows, 20.9 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks per game.

Towns is elite because of is his ability to play effectively on both ends of the court. In today’s game you rarely see an offensive threat that is a decent defender. And if need be, Towns can put the ball on the floor and move like a guard. This facet of his repertoire allows him to exploit any of the slow footed centers that he has come crossed with.

Towns also has an excellent perimeter jump shot [15 footer] that is also combined with a turnaround jump hook-shot that is “straight cash” assuming that he has the proper positioning in the paint. Typically, big men take time to develop into prime time players, but in the words of the late great Big Pun, Towns has been “ready for war” since he left Kentucky.

Towns’ athleticism and basketball court I.Q. has made him a force to be reckoned with, and helped him pass the test in such a competitive western conference landscape. You rarely see a player of Towns’ age with his skillset because he is the real deal and well on his way to being the “perfect weapon on the court.

In his first year, the Timberwolves improved their season record by thirteen games. 29-53 and then by two more games in 2016-17, 31-51. He put up some pretty sick stats in the 2016-17 season, such as 25.1 points per game, 12.3 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. Towns is a double-double machine that makes his teammates better.

Porzingis’s statistics while playing for head coach Jeff Hornacek, are just as impressive, if not better. His 27.0 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 2.2 blocks per game have helped the Knicks stay afloat, and have them playing .500 basketball in the considerably weaker eastern conference.

Porzingis’s scoring average has improved each year since his pro debut. In 2015-16 he averaged 14.3 points per game. In 2016-17 he averaged 18.1 points per game. This is a major improvement each season. Knick fans should be content with Porzingis’s learning curve. His supporting staff includes center Enes Kantor, who came to New York from Oklahoma City in the Carmelo Anthony trade, and small forward Tim Hardaway, Jr. The chemistry between the three gels and flows accordingly, especially since the triangle offense has been laid to rest.

At 7’3, Porzingis has the ability to knock down jump shots at will. Due to his size, defenders are at a physical disadvantage, and have a hard time blocking any of the shots that he puts up. Porzingis is a walking triple threat. He can hit threes, rebound, and block shots. Porzingis’s Achilles heel is his lack of speed and physicality. As Porzingis’s body matures he will bulk up in size. However, Porzingis is still in the same category as Towns, when he is playing down low.

In the 2015-16 season, the Knicks doubled the amount of victories 32-50, but dropped one game 31-51 in the subsequent season. But like Towns, Porzingis makes him team better. What Porzingis can do at his size, is the kind of stuff that you see in video games.

You can’t go wrong with either player when starting a franchise. However, Towns is a stronger rebounder and defender. As it stands now, Porzingis gets buckets, but isn’t necessarily the focal point of the offense. For this to change, the Knicks need the right players in place.

Porzingis would benefit tremendously from the addition of a top 10 point guard, to open up the floor and get him the ball. The Knicks dropped the ball by not acquiring Eric Bledsoe on waivers.

Towns seems more durable, while Porzingis is frail and can be injury prone. Go with Towns.

Comment: Jg51593N@Pace.edu

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