MINNEAPOLIS – Karl-Anthony Towns watched his friend and former Kentucky teammate Devin Booker advance to the NBA Finals with Phoenix last spring. He saw another talented tall man in Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who at 26 is a year older than Towns, win the MVP award and another in Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, also 26, win the title.
Towns’ NBA generation is no longer sidelined while league stars in their 30s like LeBron James, James Harden and Kevin Durant have all the gear.
“It didn’t make the vacation any better,” Towns said.
When asked on Wednesday how big he was on his shoulder, Towns replied, “Huge.”
“It’s a big season for me,” Towns said. “I just have to go out there and do it. I’m ready to give it all I have. I plan to do it. I’m more than prepared. And to top it off… I’m ready. I am mentally. ready for this season. So it’s very different from what I felt when I came in the second to last. “
This is how Towns feels despite the upheavals the organization has experienced recently with the dismissal of President Gersson Rosas. An exasperated Towns exposed the tribulations he has faced with multiple coaching and front-office teams over his six-plus seasons on Media Day. Not to mention everything Towns went through in his personal life with the death of his mother and other family members from COVID-19.
Wednesday’s media session focused more on how he trained in the offseason and a bit of what to expect defensively from him this season, aside from organizational chaos.
Towns said his weight has dropped to around 240 pounds, which is down from his listed weight of 248 last season.
“I joked all summer that I just wanted to be a GI Joe,” Towns said. “I took it seriously with my training like that. I just looked at it a little differently than I usually do.”
Towns posted videos of his workouts on Instagram, which included boxing sessions, as well as the required photos of a more muscular physique. Towns said he consulted with Hall of Famer Ben Wallace on how Wallace conducted his workouts, and added that his workouts consisted of “lifting the heaviest dumbbell in the gym.”
“I just said, ‘Hey I’m going to get fat,’” Towns said. “I’m going to focus on building muscle mass and not trying to lose weight and all that. That was my goal…
“Overall I wanted to try a new body type. I really thought it could take me to a new level.”
Towns said there was no specific reason on the pitch, like getting faster or improving defensively, for the extra bulk. Coach Chris Finch said he’s noticed Towns’ core strength is improving, which can help defensively.
Finch might ask Towns to protect the ball handler on screens more aggressively than falling for the basket. Maybe the new physique can help with that as well.
“I’ve always been leading the league to move on to guards,” Towns said, referring to positive reviews that say he can defend screens well. “It’s usually in my wheelhouse. It’s where I’m most comfortable.”
Finch said he noticed Towns was in an “excellent state of mind” as Wolves entered their first week of training.
“Her body looks great,” Finch said. “He’s had a great summer. He’s confident.… So he seems to be in the best frame of mind and ready to go. That’s all you can ask for.”
Especially in light of the past week.
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