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How Will Karl-Anthony Towns Stack Up Against Recent Successful Timberwolves Rookies?

Ann Heisenfelt/USA TODAY Sports

I previously set out a possible rookie season stat line for Karl-Anthony Towns at a dozen points, double-digit rebounds, a couple of dimes and a pair of blocks. Far and away better than other big men who were drafted with the No. 1 pick, such as Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown, Andrew Bogut or Andrea Bargnani.

That pace would match Dwight Howard‘s first year in Orlando where D12 averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, an assist and 1.5 blocks in just over 30 minutes a night. If you were to take a bit of Howard, a touch of Anthony Davis and a pinch of former Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, you’d get what I believe to be Towns’s rookie season, which isn’t too shabby.

So where does KAT (who’s in major need of a nickname) predicted stat line place him among other notable Timberwolves rookies of recent vintage? Sure there have been some questionable draft-day decisions, such as Derrick Williams (2011 #2), Wesley Johnson (2010 #4), Jonny Flynn (2009 #6) and Felton Spencer (1990 #6), but the Wolves have also added some studs to their roster (honorable mention to Ricky Rubio and Wally Szczerbiak).

Pooh Richardson (1989 #10 – 31.5 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.8 APG): Jerome Richardson Jr. (affectionately nicknamed Pooh by his grandmother), was the Timberwolves’ first ever draft pick, coming out of UCLA after his senior season. Although he didn’t start for the expansion franchise right away, Richardson found himself inserted into the starting five by midseason.

For the next 41 games, Richardson hit double-digits in scoring in all but seven outings and dished out five or more helpers in 38 of those nights. Based on his numbers and despite Minnesota’s struggles, Richardson joined David Robinson, Tim Hardaway, Vlade Divac and Sherman Douglas on the All Rookie First Team.

Unfortunately for Timberwolves fans and Richardson, management decided to head in a different direction two years later, trading the young point guard to Indiana for Michael Williams.

J.R. Rider (1993 #5 – 30.6 MPG, 16.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.6 ASP): Isaiah, as Richardson had done four years earlier, was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and was crowned the NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion during his first year in the league.

Highlighting his rookie season, Rider posted two impressive games, including a season-high 32-point night in a victory over the Clippers and a 30-point, 12-rebound, four-assist effort in a loss to the Rockets.

However, while the brash and troubled guard increased his point production over the next two seasons in Minnesota, the off-court issues also continued to mount. Whether it was tardiness, trouble with the cops, or conflicts with coaches and teammates, Rider’s career was one filled with athletic promise, but the demons off the hardwood took over throughout his nine years in the league:

Kevin Garnett (1995 #5 – 28.7 MPG, 10.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.6 BPG) No, the stat line doesn’t blow many fans away, until you mention that KG was the ripe old age of 19 when he entered the league.

The Timberwolves and Garnett are two identities that should never have been separated, despite KG winning a ring in Boston. There are just some players who should never play for more than one team, and in many opinions, KG was/is one of them. Coming off the bench for the early portion of his first season, one in which he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, KG provided the young Wolves with decent stat lines, but nothing especially impressive until Flip Saunders took over.

Even then it wasn’t until the midway point of the season before fans and the league saw what Garnett was capable of. Although Minnesota was an afterthought as a playoff contender that season, Garnett’s highlight game came late in the year against the Celtics, when he wowed the hometown fans with a 33-point, eight-rebound, four-assist, three-block evening. Not bad for a kid who just graduated high school less than a year prior:

Stephon Marbury (1996 #4 – 34.7 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7.8 APG) – Like Garnett a year before, “Starbury” entered the league at 19 years of age, but had one year of NCAA ball under his belt as a member Point Guard U. Coached by Bobby Cremins of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Marbury entered the NBA Draft after a single season in Atlanta.

Drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and then traded to the Timberwolves, Marbury and Garnett meshed immediately and turned Minnesota into a playoff team in their first year together. Starting the first game of the season, Marbury was only on the floor for eight minutes, the first and last time that year in which his minutes dipped below 21. The young duo created numerous highlights, and Marbury’s personal best came early in the season with a 30-point, 11-assist, four-rebound effort in a victory over the Nuggets.

While the following season was once again a team and personal success, it was in his third year that the Marbury camp, based on a variety of stories and rumors, demanded a trade. Who knows what could have/would have been if “Showbiz and KG” had stuck together.

Kevin Love (2008 #5 – 25.3 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.0 APG) – As with Marbury, Love was added to the roster through a draft-day trade, this time with the Memphis Grizzlies. Named to the NBA All Rookie Second Team, Love finished fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounds. It didn’t take Love long to establish himself as a team leader, both in the locker room and on the court, flirting with a double-double in points and rebounds on a nightly basis.

Love’s best outing in his first season came in a loss (something of a regular occurrence in 08-09) to the Utah Jazz, as he tallied 24 points and 15 boards in the game. As with others before him, it wouldn’t be long until the lack of success played with Love’s mind and emotions, leading to a trade six years into his career, bringing in another prized freshman to the franchise.

Andrew Wiggins (2014 #1 – 36.2 MPG, 16.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.1 APG) If you thought KG had a lot on his shoulders at 19, try not only having a franchise, but an entire country! The next great Canadian talent (shout out to Steve Nash) was the runaway NBA Rookie Of the Year and an NBA All Rookie First Team member last season.

Unwanted by the “Chosen One” in Cleveland, Wiggins is now teaming up with a young Timberwolves roster hoping to return the team to the playoffs after an 11-year drought. While Wiggins had numerous highlights throughout the season, his most impressive stat line came in a January victory over the Nuggets when he dropped 31 points, nine rebounds, four helpers and three blocks.

As for the weight of his country? If you think it’s been awhile since the Timberwolves have made the playoffs, try being Team Canada at the Olympics, last seen in the year 2000:

We’ll see if Towns can match up with these other players in his rookie season.

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