The Utah Jazz will be taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves, where two of the best big men in the game will be facing off against each other: Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been in the news for all the wrong reasons as of late. With Jimmy Butler demanding a trade just weeks prior to the start of the season, the chemistry of this team has been in shambles. No one seems to like each other very much, and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is almost certainly on the hot seat.
All of that said, with a healthy and active Jimmy Butler on this roster, they are not a pushover. Many have forgotten that the Timberwolves were comfortably in the third seed for the playoffs last season until Butler went out with a knee injury in late February.
Due to the turmoil, the Wolves have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, and currently are sitting at 3-4 overall. One of the most confusing players for the Timberwolves this season has been young big man, Karl-Anthony Towns.
Two seasons ago, Towns averaged an incredible 25 points and 12 rebounds. The next season, his scoring dipped to 21 points, but he did still grab 12 boards a night. This season though? He is down to just 17 points, and is only at nine rebounds per game. For any other player, those numbers would be very good, but for someone as talented as Towns, it has certainly been a concerning start to the season.
Many have begun to wonder if he is simply unmotivated to play with Butler still on the roster, as many believe the relationship between the two is one of the main reasons Butler requested to be traded.
Perhaps breaking out of that slump though, Towns dropped 25 points, 16 rebounds and six assists on the Lakers, and he even added four blocks for good measure.
The game against the Lakers may be a bit misleading, though, since the Lakers have one of the worst defenses in the entire league. Teams have scored at will against them, and they feature limited rim protection outside of JaVale McGee. He will be facing a much more stifling test this time around, as he goes head-to-head against Rudy Gobert, A.K.A. The Stifle Tower.
Gobert is off to the best start of his career, as he is averaging 17.7 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. He has been a dominant force down low. The Jazz have clearly made it a focal point to get him the ball as he rolls to the basket, and they are throwing more lobs than every before.
If you like dunks, you’ve loved to watch Gobert this season. As written by Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune, Gobert is currently leading the entire NBA in dunks this season with 28, and is on pace to break the all-time record since the stat was followed in 2000.
At 26 years old, Gobert is entering his prime years, and in years past, he has taken the matchup between other rising big men personally. He is ultra competitive, and wants to prove that he is the best center in the game.
This will be the matchup to watch as the Utah Jazz take on the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. The Jazz will be looking to earn a crucial divisional win early on in this season, and if Gobert can win this matchup, they’ll have a great chance of coming out on top in this one.
Towns has the rare ability to step out to 3-point line as a seven-footer, but he can also put the ball on the floor and drive past his defender. This will be the ultimate test of Gobert’s defensive prowess, and should be an entertaining one to tune into.