Is Karl-Anthony Towns unpopular, or is Rudy Gobert just better. Gobert was awarded a daily double. He was first team All-Defensive. And he made All-NBA.
Gobert making All-NBA means Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t and he lost $32 million. By nature of his contract, Towns was incentivized via what is called the Derrick Rose Rule. If he had made his second All-NBA team, the $32 million bonus would kick in. But no. Gobert stole his slot. Or, earned it. Nevertheless, no one is weeping for Towns. Instead of a $198 million extension, he will get $150 million.
In theory, the center position has three slots in All-NBA. But really there is only one open slot. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid will dominate the voting for years to come. That leaves one center. The problem about Towns making the team, despite his sterling numbers, 24 points and 12 rebounds, is what was exposed with an angry Jimmy Butler in an open war against Towns. He doesn’t defend with tenacity. His leadership is weak. Mentally, he can be shook. Is he a stat guy as Butler suggested?
I’ll never forget how Rocket fan began serenading Towns at the free throw line and he missed both free throws. Last season, Towns was a no-show in the playoffs, refusing to be aggressive and work his way into the post to score. Instead, he just took jumper after jumper.
That has nothing to do with this year, except it does. Perception shapes how players are perceived. Rudy Gobert is a defensive player. Towns can score and rebound. But Gobert is perceived as mentally tough while Towns is called soft. Forget Jimmy Butler. Towns is hurt by his very thin playoff resume.
NBA writers vote All-NBA. No robots vote. So the vote is 95% what happens on the court and 5% subjectivity. All humans fall back on their biases and NBA analysts are no different. When they denied James Harden an All-NBA nod a few years back, it felt vindictive. Certain writers have a problem with the Harden game, so they slid him out of All-NBA.
I imagine the vote for Gobert over Towns was pretty close and it came down to Gobert’s ability to control a game by what he does at the rim. Towns is a scorer but his scoring doesn’t control the game like past players (at his position) who have Towns’ ability.
It makes sense that most players on the All-NBA team (LeBron James and Kemba Walker are the exceptions) were in the 2019 playoffs. Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t have the resume and isn’t given the benefit of the doubt. He has to prove that he can be tough on the defensive end, and that he cares about stopping possessions, as much as he loves scoring. His 2018-19 numbers, though, weren’t what they usually were. He played less minutes, shot the lowest field goal percentage of his career, dropped percentage points in his 3-point baskets. His 2-point efficiency was slightly better than his rookie year, and not close to what it was in 2017-18.
Rudy Gobert had a career high in field goal percentage, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, total rebounding, assists, steals, and points. His offensive rating was 133 and his defensive rating was 100. Towns offensive rating was 118 and his defensive rating was 108. Across the board, including the playoffs, the numbers say Gobert was better, individually, and as a teammate.
And it just cost Karl-Anthony Towns a bunch of money.