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Road Trip Thoughts: KAT, Players Only, and more injuries

Tuesday night was a tough one for the Wolves in Denver as they fell 133-107 to the Nuggets. Karl-Anthony Towns continued his recent tear as he returned from an injury scare over the weekend with 34 points and 10 rebounds.

Towns’ performance as of late has been nothing short of extraordinary. He’s been the best player on the floor in almost every game he’s played since the All-Star break. Towns is fighting to be named to an All-NBA team for the second consecutive year, which would mean that his contract extension is worth $190 million over the next five seasons instead of $158 million.

This was a topic of conversation during the first half of play amongst the broadcast crew on TNT’s Players Only. The crew featured Isiah Thomas, Jason Terry, Dennis Scott, and Brendan Haywood. Thomas had quite the take on whether or not Towns deserved to be paid like one of the top players in the NBA.

“You ain’t Kevin Durant, you ain’t Steph Curry. You’re not LeBron James,” Thomas said on the broadcast. ”In order to be at that level and make that kind of money, you need to be one of those kinds of players… You’ve gotta win.”

Would it be better for Towns if the Wolves were a more successful franchise, competing for Western Conference championships and a shot at the Larry O’Brien Trophy every summer? Absolutely.

Is it an indictment on his talent because the Wolves haven’t done the best job building the pieces around him? Absolutely not.

Towns has shown throughout most of this season that he’s certainly deserving on of the supermax extension he could potentially get. He showed it again on Tuesday night, and it’s likely he’ll show it on Thursday against Utah, Sunday against Houston, and so on and so forth. It’s ridiculous to think he shouldn’t be paid like a top player just because he’s not on a top team.

Towards the end of the first half, after much of this discussion died down, Towns went on a quick run. He put down two relatively ferocious dunks on back-to-back possessions, including the second one as an and-one.

They were impressive plays, as everyone on TNT’s crew agreed. The Wolves went into halftime trailing Denver 58-48, which led Thomas to double down on his Towns take.

“I go back to my point, [the Wolves] are down 10 right now.”

Thomas is allowed to have his opinion, no matter how awful it seems to be, but to have it on that platform seems like a failure by the higher ups. The National Basketball Players Association, of which Thomas is a former president from 1988-1994. He said he wants players to get paid, but actively went out on a national platform and essentially said Towns didn’t deserve it. That’s a problem.

Not the only problem

Many fans have had issues with TNT’s Players Only prior to Tuesday night. The cast of characters and lack of a play-by-play man make for a tough listen at times. Aside from Thomas talking about Towns, there were plenty of other errors.

For instance, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has been given the nickname of “The Joker” throughout the years. That’s how he was referred to the entire night. Very rarely did a member of the crew refer to him as his actual name, it was almost always “The Joker” instead.

That wasn’t the only thing, there was one point during the game in which Wolves interim coach Ryan Saunders was called Ryan Sanders, and Keita Bates-Diop was consistently just called “Bates” which is only half of his last name.

These little imperfections are things fans take for granted, but when they’re messed up it’s like nails on a chalkboard. When the Wolves play in Utah on Thursday night, Fox Sports North’s crew of Dave Benz, Jim Petersen, and Marney Gellner won’t be taken for granted.

As for basketball

Now that all of the off the court stuff for the night has been handled, the on-court product wasn’t great. The Wolves were without Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, and Andrew Wiggins while Luol Deng and Robert Covington both remained out.

It’s tough for this team to win games down so many bodies. Guys like Bates-Diop, Cam Reynolds, and Jerryd Bayless filled in admirably, but truth be told, the Wolves just aren’t going to win too many games right now when all three of those guys play over 20 minutes.

Of those three, Reynolds shot the ball relatively well, finishing with a career-high 12 points, and Bates-Diop continued to do positive things, despite having a rough night from the floor. It’s starting to be plausible to think he’s got a real future as a member of this team.

The Wolves are back in action on Thursday night in Utah against the Jazz.


Previous Story Moore On Monday: Three Timberwolves Trends, Including Derrick Rose Isolations and Andrew Wiggins’ Lack of Cuts Next Story Good, Bad, or Ugly: 6 things about the Wolves with KBD, Players Only, and a Euro Step