The Minnesota Timberwolves have had trouble building chemistry with their new-look squad. Things have started to trend in the right direction as the team currently sits one game under .500 and is floating around the sixth seed in the Western Conference. However, they’ve built most of their comradery without three-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and have seen Anthony Edwards step into more of a leadership role.
Over seven weeks ago, the Washington Wizards were uprooting the Wolves in DC. With 5:25 left in the third quarter, Towns fell near mid-court while running back on defense. Showing no emotion, Towns signaled to Minnesota’s bench that something wasn’t right. Normally, Towns is very loud and lets people know he’s in discomfort. However, this time things seemed much worse. KAT grabbed behind his right knee in what appeared to be a non-contact injury.
Everyone feared the worst as they watched Towns hobble off the floor without putting any weight on that right leg. However, it came out the following day that Towns only suffered a Grade 2 right calf strain. That particular injury has a timeline of around four-to-six weeks, as Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported. At the time, people thought that Towns would recover fully and return to the lineup “sometime in January.”
It’s almost February, and fans have started to become impatient. That four-to-six-week window has come and gone with no news involving KAT’s return to the lineup. However, Towns recently explained that his injury and timetable are worse than what reporters initially indicated.
“I remember when that day happened, they said four-to-six, four-to-six, four-to-six, and I wasn’t even out the MRI,” said Towns on his Twitch stream. “So obviously someone in our organization leakin’ information, usual, that’s a usual thing. And leakin’ it to Shams [Charania], so they must be friends with Shams, I know who it is. I was just getting off the MRI table and people already knew what I had, I ain’t even know what the reading was yet, so that should tell you something.”
With the way Towns fell as he ran back on offense, people started to assume the worse. Maybe he had done something to his Achillies. However, fans got fed what looks to be false hope. Initially, it looked like Towns avoided serious injury. Some of that was true, he didn’t do anything to his Achillies. However, a Grade 2 calf strain never seemed to be a possibility.
“I don’t know where they told you Grade 2,” explained Towns. “I don’t know where they said Grade 2 for y’all. They was like Grade 2 to the fans, four-to-six weeks. I wish it was four to six weeks. I knew then it wasn’t going to be four-to-six weeks, the team was trying to say four-to-six. There was no way with the injury I sustained, it’s a very significant injury. I don’t know if they were trying to give false hope for the fans, or what the case may be. But there was no chance that I was gonna’ be back in four-to-six. They said Grade 2, there was never a Grade 2, it was a Grade 3.”
A Grade 3 muscle injury is the most severe a player or human can endure. According to Physiotools, the timetable for a person to fully recover from a Grade 3 calf strain is anywhere from 8-to-12 weeks – depending on the severity and whether or not surgery is required. Luckily, the Timberwolves haven’t released anything in regard to season-ending surgery for Towns.
Despite not requiring surgery, there is still a chance Towns doesn’t return to the Wolves until close to the playoffs or potentially for the rest of this season. Minnesota has been trying to keep its head above water since losing KAT. Currently, the Wolves are 14-13 in games without Towns this season. We’ve seen improved flow amongst Minnesota’s starters, especially Anthony Edwards.
Ever since the Wolves took him with the 1st overall back in 2015, Towns has been his team’s best player – bar none. However, we’ve seen in the past 27 games that this is no longer KAT’s team. Rather, Ant is now Batman, and KAT is more like Robin.
Edwards has averaged 25, 6, and 5 since Towns went down. Great things happen when Ant has the ball as Minnesota’s primary scorer. We saw Edwards drop 44 points on the Houston Rockets a few nights ago, single-handedly leading his team to a nice comeback win.
“He’s the head of the snake when it comes to the Minnesota Timberwolves as of right now,” said Nate Knight regarding Ant following the game. “Him along with a couple other guys. When Ant speaks up, you gotta listen.”
It’s crazy to think that Ant is now “the head of the snake” for the Wolves, but it’s true. The 21-year-old has stepped into a primary leadership role – something that typically isn’t expected of guys until they’re at least 26 years old.
There has been plenty of Twitter talk surrounding the Wolves possibly moving on from Towns. However, we’ve seen teams (like the Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton) be able to successfully run a Batman and Robin star pairing. For the Wolves to make that work, along with holding on to other pieces, they will need to prioritize Ant as the team’s No. 1 scorer.