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Pistons vs Timberwolves preview: Karl-Anthony Towns is really good - is Andre Drummond better?

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What We Talk About When We Talk About The Streak

Detroit Pistons v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves come into Detroit on the second half of a home-road back-to-back, after they lost in overtime to Denver Sunday on a last-second Nikola Jokic turnaround. The Detroit Pistons, playing the first game of THEIR home-road back-to-back, are hoping to re-integrate star Blake Griffin smoothly into their surprisingly productive offense - and hoping Blake’s communication and rebounding helps their bottom-third defense.

But that’s not what I wanna talk about. I wanna talk about the streak.

Game Vitals:

When: November 11, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis:

The streak, of course, is Andre Drummond’s undefeated 8-0 record against Karl-Anthony Towns.

It is widely accepted that Karl-Anthony Towns is a better basketball player than Andre Drummond. Despite that common knowledge, Karl-Anthony Towns’ Timberwolves have never beaten Andre Drummond’s Pistons, and in the process, Dre has repeatedly kicked KAT’s ass:

Repeatedly:

Kicked:

His:

ASS:

These occasions are a fun rejoinder to the notion that KAT is better than Dre - “If he’s better than this guy, why doesn’t he beat him?” KAT is, in fact, probably better than Dre, but Dre thrashes KAT, and that’s exemplary of the relative lack of success KAT has found in his career.

Karl-Anthony Towns is perhaps the most gifted offensive center the league has ever seen. Not many other centers shoot close to 40% from three on the usage KAT has. Despite his massive talent, though, he’s only been to the playoffs once. The year his team made the playoffs, he was not the best player on his team (Jimmy Butler was), and he did not acquit himself particularly well in that playoff series (15/13/2, on 46/27/73 - a far cry from his career averages of 22/12/3 on 53/39/83).

Getting to the playoffs only one time in four years, and not playing well once he was there, is not evidence that KAT is bad, because he very clearly isn’t. It’s to say that KAT gets handled gently, and mostly appreciated for what he does (score efficiently in a way most big men cannot), instead of vilified for what he doesn’t do (win).

Now, there are excellent reasons for why KAT has only been to the playoffs once; he plays in the tougher conference, he’s been weighed down by the play and contract of Andrew Wiggins, he’s never had a coach that maximized his offensive repertoire. And, again, it’s VERY clear to anyone who even glances at KAT that he’s a supremely talented player. But, at some point, how you’re judged across the league comes down to your postseason performance, and KAT hasn’t checked that box.

That could change, and soon. KAT’s been a different player this year - he’s posting similar scoring numbers in a much different way (career-high NINE 3PA/g) and much more involved in the offense (career-high 4.0 assists a game, Usage % close to a career-high). He’s also getting properly paid for his services after signing a five year, $190 million extension that started this season. Perhaps that contract increases the expectations on KAT, as it has for other players before him.

But, after a 3-0 start to the year, the Wolves have lost three of their last four games. This early in the year, they’ve been outraced by the Phoenix Suns as the surprise Western Conference team that could take the Thunder and Warriors’ spot in the playoffs. But KAT’s still appreciated for the offensive talent he is, for the numbers he accumulates, for the otherwordly skills he displays.

Andre Drummond... is less appreciated (Got a whole podcast on that that dropped today, if you’re interested). And so, Dre has resigned himself to thrashing KAT at literally every opportunity. That’s what the streak is about - small victories in a larger conflict.

Andre and KAT are battling each other, but fighting the same war - the war for respect around the league, for individual accolades like All-Star and All-NBA selections, to exceed the constraints placed on them as big men in a league dominated by wings who initiate offense and defend. Tonight is just the latest engagement.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (4-6):
Bruce Brown Jr., Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Minnesota Timberwolves (5-4):
Jarett Culver, Treveon Graham, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Karl-Anthony Towns

Poll Question of the Day:

Poll

Will Andre’s streak over Karl-Anthony Towns continue?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Yes
    (45 votes)
  • 51%
    HELL yes
    (109 votes)
  • 27%
    Nah
    (57 votes)
211 votes total Vote Now