Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was fourth in ESPN’s Top 25 rankings of players under the age of 25 for 2018, earning him a place behind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.
The list, available to those who get ESPN’s Insider content, was compiled by a group of experts and is based on “future potential” and not just their current ability.
Towns’ ranking could be debated, but there is no questioning that the 22-year-old is among the best young players in the game and everyone knows that. The concerning thing about these rankings is where Towns’ teammate, Andrew Wiggins, wound up and, in this case, it’s difficult to argue.
A year after being 11th, Wiggins fell into in a tie for 23rd with the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma.
Bobby Marks, who along with Kevin Pelton and Chris Herring voted on the rankings, wrote of Wiggins: While Wiggins has a career average of 20 points per game, he has continued to regress this season in rebounding (4.1), assists (1.7), three-point shooting (33.1 percent) and true shooting (51 percent). He is also on pace for a career low in win shares (1.57). With a $146 million rookie extension set to begin in July, one would hope that Wiggins’ development this season would justify his contract.
Marks put Wiggins 21st on his individual ballot, while Herring had the top pick in the 2014 draft at No. 20. Pelton did not rank Wiggins among his Top 25.
Forward Lauri Markannen, the seventh-overall pick in the June draft who was sent to Chicago along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in the Jimmy Butler trade, was 19th on the list. LaVine did not make the Top 25.
As Marks noted, the five-year, $146 million that Wiggins signed in the fall won’t begin until next season and there already has to be concern at Target Center whether he ever will be worthy of the max contract he received.
Wiggins turned 23 on Feb. 23 but is in his fourth season and has played in 311 NBA games. If anything Wiggins should have moved into the Top 10 of these rankings this season.
The fact he dropped 12 spots isn’t shocking considering his play this season, but it is extremely concerning considering the financial commitment the Wolves have made in him.