Talkin’ About Practice: KAT’s selection, Big Ticket in town, and the Nuggets

MINNEAPOLIS – Karl-Anthony Towns was named an NBA All-Star for the second consecutive season. He was the last reserve named to the team on TNT Thursday night.

Towns received the news the same way the rest of the world did, watching the TNT pregame show. Many people may have watched from their couches, or in local watering holes, but Towns was at the movies as he treated many Wolves and Lynx employees to a screening of “What Men Want,” a movie in which Towns has a minor role.

“It’s funny, I never got to see [the broadcast] last year. I didn’t know how it went,” Towns said on Friday. “From what my parents told me, it was the same thing last year. I was the last person. I don’t know if it’s my last name being with a T or something. However way you get in, you get in. Pretty or ugly, as long as you’re playing on Sunday, it was a pretty big honor.”

For Towns, this should become a regular thing – the All-Star selection, not becoming a movie star, but who knows, I suppose. He should continue to progress in his game and eventually challenge to become a starter in the Western Conference.

“It was great. It’s fun to be a part of. He deserves it,” Ryan Saunders said of Towns’ selection. “It’s a great honor, and the fact that his family was right there, too. A lot of his teammates and people within the organization. It was awesome that we were all able to share it with him because he deserves it.”

Towns is deserving of the selection, without question. The last spot likely came down to him and Utah’s Rudy Gobert. The two likely aren’t done competing, either. It’s fair to think that Gobert and Towns will be the two players battling for a spot on one of the All-NBA teams this spring.

The Big Ticket

Towns’ selection to the All-Star Game wasn’t the only big thing going on in downtown Minneapolis on Friday afternoon.

Kevin Garnett was also in attendance at practice. He was there to tape a segment of KG’s Area 21 for TNT with Towns, Saunders, and Andrew Wiggins.

Garnett’s strained relationship with the franchise hasn’t been kept quiet. He’s has had harsh words for owner Glen Taylor previously calling him an idiot and saying “he doesn’t know s*** about basketball” on a TNT broadcast earlier this season.

Despite that, he still does have a good relationship with Saunders and Towns, as that pair said as much on Friday.

“I mean, he’s a legend,” Towns said. “He’s my older brother. So, I’m always looking toward him for advice and everything like that. A lot of you guys, and me, who’d have thought we’d get him back here into the gym. So, it’s a good sign.”

“It’s great to see him,” Saunders said. “I haven’t gotten a chance to catch up with him yet. We were just wrapping up, but we’ve been talking for a while here and I’ve been looking forward for today and we were talking this morning about catching up after this so it will be great to sit around and talk to him a little bit.”

There’s not been word of when the segment will air on TNT or if Garnett will stick around for Saturday night’s game at home against the Nuggets.

Hello, Denver

Speaking of the game to be played on Saturday, the Nuggets present a difficult challenge for the Wolves, and especially Towns.

Last year’s Game 82 between Denver and Minnesota was certainly an instant classic, but these two teams have gone in different directions since then. The Wolves have had a rather tumultuous season, whole the Nuggets have shot up to near the top of the Western Conference standings.

The Nuggets have seen the continued development of Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and most importantly Nikoa Jokic. Jokic was named an All-Star on Thursday for the first time in his career and has established himself as one of the best big men in the NBA. His all-around game is outstanding, and he’s put himself just outside of the conversation in this year’s MVP race.

The most impressive part of what he does, might be his ability as a passer. This season he’s averaged 7.7 assists per game, in addition to 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. It’s almost unheard of for a guy of his stature to be this good at distributing the basketball.

“Jokic, he’s unbelievably talented, and he’s unique in what he does,” Saunders said. “He makes people around him better. When teams are game planning for Denver you want to make sure that he’s highlighted, he’s underlined, and he’s put in bold because he’s that talented.”

Saunders also said that his passing ability is a rarity, but he could recall a couple of guys that possessed similar attributes like Jokic.

“I mean, I was young, but I remember watching Arvydas Sabonis back in the day,” the 32-year-old Saunders said. “I don’t think it’s fair to necessarily put players or past players into categories, but when you say “passing ability” that’s the big that you think. Court vision, and then just a willingness to pass, too. You can tell he enjoys getting his teammates shots.

“KG, I think that was the thing people forget about his MVP year. His ability to pass off the elbows, out of the post, at the top of the key. He was a guy who made everybody better.”