On the road to superstardom, circumstance is everything. Some are blessed with a defined role and a stable system that fosters growth. Others are left to figure it out on their own with mixed results. In the best situations, young stars have mentors to guide them through their early days in the league. While experience remains the best teacher, it certainly helps to have a guide that can explain your new situations as you encounter them. This is what promising big-man, Karl-Anthony Towns, has in Kevin Garnett. Despite being the least glamorous location out of the top 4 to pick in the draft last summer, Minnesota might just be the best case scenario for Towns’ development. It's very rare that a player with superstar potential is directly mentored by a former superstar that played the same position and had a similar skill set. The most recent situation that resembles this one is back when the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan and had David Robinson mentor him. San Antonio, led by Tim Duncan, has been a powerhouse in the Western Conference ever since. Minnesota is hoping for similar contributions from Towns going forward.
The first thing Garnett will teach Towns is how to deal with the physicality of the NBA. Garnett always had the ability to be a physical tormentor on the court while preserving his body with a highly skilled, finesse game. Towns has the potential to replicate those traits. They both possess a rare combination of size, strength and agility that allows them to be both physical and cerebral on the court.
Garnett will also teach Towns how to handle the responsibilities of being a star big man. Garnett has always been a vocal leader on defense, making sure the rest of the team is aware of what they are supposed to be doing. Towns would do well to pick up on that and become the defensive anchor that he has the potential to be. Towns will be able to score in bunches from day one. His ability to shoot from mid-range and finish around the basket with touch makes that side of the game easy for him. Garnett will show him how to get his within the flow of the offense. This is important because ball dominant bigs are being phased out of the modern NBA game or are just losing a lot (think Brook Lopez and DeMarcus Cousins).
Due to the untimely passing of head coach and general manager, Flip Saunders, Garnett’s influence becomes that much more important to Towns’ development. Garnett knows as much as anyone what Saunders was about. He understands the vision that Saunders was trying to bring about for the Timberwolves and specifically for Towns. Expect Towns to carry himself with the poise and perspective necessary to become a franchise cornerstone.