Jimmy Butler, while on the Timberwolves but sidelined due to injury in 2018, was still Jimmy Butler. As a suit-wearing Butler danced on the bench during a game, someone handed him a stat sheet. Without checking the box score, Butler crumpled the paper, threw it into the air and continued grooving.
Amin Elhassan on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” produced by Mike Ryan:
Allegedly, that was directed at Karl-Anthony Towns, who, whenever he’d come to the bench, “Where’s the stat sheet? Let me stat sheet.” Looks at how he does. There have been stories about, he comes out of a game, they’re up 20, sits down, looks at his stat sheet, realizes he had 20 and nine that night. He’s like “Argh” and is visibly disgusted and frustrated because I didn’t hit my marks.
At minimum, that story is believable. Butler was hard on Towns, whom rubbed Butler the wrong way by not maximizing his talent.
And Towns recently effectively admitted to chasing stats.
Towns, via Dane Moore of Blue Wire Podcasts:
I’ve had the time to mess up and I guess you could say ‘chase stats’. That s[***] is over. I’ve proved myself in this league. I truly believe that. I don’t have to prove myself anymore. But now what I have to prove is: can I win? I think that’s the next step. I have to do whatever it takes. I look at the star sheet ‘oh, is great, it’s wonderful, 30 and 16’. But we lost. I don’t give a s[***] then. At the end of the day, the word on me is still gonna be the word. There’s only one way to change the narrative, and that’s to go beat the narrative.”
This is encouraging to hear. Towns is highly talented and has flashed the ability to contribute more to winning.
Many players have chased individual glory early in their careers then later prioritized team success. Perhaps, Towns, 25, is flipping that switch.
But Minnesota is an NBA-worst 12-38 this season (and still just 8-22 when Towns plays). As he said, he must actually do it – not just talk about it.
That means defending with more effort and focus. That means asserting himself. That means not overemphasizing playing with his friends.
Towns has a bright future. It’d be even brighter he alters his approach to emphasize winning over individual stats.