The NBA today announced Minnesota Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns is the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb trophy as the winner of the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Towns becomes just the fifth unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year in the last 32 years, joining Damian Lillard (2012-2013 season), Blake Griffin (2010-11), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84).
With today’s announcement, Wolves players have won the award in back-to-back seasons with Andrew Wiggins taking the honor for the 2014-15 season. Minnesota is the first team with back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners since the Buffalo Braves in 1972-73 (Bob McAdoo) and 1973-74 (Ernie DiGregorio).
Towns, 20, received all 130 first-place votes and 650 total points from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis finished second with 363 points, and the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic was third with 59 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
“It’s an honor to be named Rookie of the Year by the media,” Towns said. “I owe a lot to our coaches and my teammates for their support throughout the year. I intend to work hard on my craft to improve my game for next season and help our team challenge for a playoff spot.”
Towns led all qualified rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg), rebounding (10.5 rpg), field goal percentage (.542), double-doubles (51) and minutes (32.0 mpg), and was second in blocks (1.68 bpg) and third in free throw percentage (.811). He was the only rookie, and one of just 18 players, to start all 82 games this season. Among all players, Towns finished eighth in rebounding and shooting percentage, 10th in blocks and second in point/rebound double-doubles.
Towns was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month all six months this season, making him the eighth player since the award’s inception (1981-82 season) to win six consecutive Rookie of the Month honors: Damian Lillard in 2012-13, Blake Griffin in 2010-11, Chris Paul in 2005-06, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in 2003-04, Tim Duncan in 1997-98 and David Robinson in 1989-90.
The 7-0 forward/center was chosen as the Western Conference Player of the Week for April 4-10, the first Wolves rookie to be honored with such an award. Towns was Minnesota’s leading rebounder 63 times and top scorer on 27 occasions; he had 32 games with 20+ points among his 73 double-figure efforts. He sank the game-winning jumper with :01.8 to play April 9 at Portland. Towns posted season highs in rebounds (21) and assists (nine) April 3 vs. Dallas, becoming the NBA’s first rookie to collect at least 21 rebounds and nine assists in the same game since Elgin Baylor (Feb. 9, 1959 vs. New York). The 21 rebounds tied Gorgui Dieng’s club rookie record, while his 18 defensive boards broke Christian Laettner’s franchise rookie mark. Towns led all scorers with 32 points March 18 at Houston, his fourth 30+ scoring effort. He collected 30 points and 15 rebounds Feb. 27 at New Orleans, the first 30/15 outing by a rookie since Blake Griffin in March 2011. Towns won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Feb. 13 and played in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 12 as part of All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Towns set Wolves’ season rookie records for points (1503), rebounds (855) and blocks (138).
Towns receives the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy, which is named in honor of one of the NBA’s founders. Gottlieb coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the NBA’s first championship, in 1946-47.
As part of its support of the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, Kia Motors America (KMA) will donate a brand new Sorento CUV to the Minnesota Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Towns’ behalf. Kia will present a 2016 Sorento to the charity of choice of each of five 2015-16 year-end award winners as part of the Kia NBA Performance Awards. Following this season, Kia will have donated a total of 43 new vehicles to charitable organizations since its support of the NBA’s prestigious honors began in 2008.
The 2015-16 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award is part of a series of on-court performance awards called the Kia NBA Performance Awards. The series, in its ninth season, is part of a multiyear marketing partnership between Kia Motors and the NBA, and includes five of the league’s most prestigious year-end honors: Kia Most Valuable Player, Kia Defensive Player of the Year, Kia Sixth Man, Kia Most Improved Player and Kia Rookie of the Year. The series also includes the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month and the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month during the regular season. Kia Motors is the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA and the Kia Optima is the league’s Official Vehicle. For more information, please visit www.kia.com/NBA.[Minnesota Timberwolves press release]