There are four excellent centers in the NBA, and that’s only if you count Anthony Davis as a center. Three of these heavyweights play in the Western Conference, with Joel Embiid the only one who does so in the East.
Two of the top four players in the NBA’s top four battled it out in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second preseason game. Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic were feisty and competitive, approaching the game like a regular-season matchup with seeding on the line.
Jokic, on the other hand, was everything you’d expect from a point guard — slow and methodical with bursts of brilliance and exceptional passing skills. Towns, on the other hand, continued their demonstration of pre-season defensive involvement and frightening presence on offense, whether it was from the three-point line or driving the lane. Despite their eagerness to make an impression on the scoreboard, neither big man was able to find the necessary rhythm to go on a scoring spree.
As I was watching this match-up unfold, I began to wonder who had the upper hand in past confrontations between these two. And what is the size of that margin? Not only in terms of victories, but also in terms of scoring efficiency and total impact? If you were to put a wager between these two teams on these best betting sites, who would you pick?
Historical match-ups between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jokic
The catch here is that the Timberwolves have a lengthy history of underachievement and underperformance. As a result, putting too much value in wins against a Denver Nuggets club that has been on the rise in recent years is not a good idea. However, it’s entertaining to remember about the two extremely gifted giants’ previous encounters; we must press on. According to StatHead, Towns and Jokic have played each other eighteen times during regular season basketball, with the Nuggets winning twelve of those contests. But it was a foregone conclusion, so it’s nothing to be concerned about.
However, there are a few noteworthy tendencies that emerge fast. Jokic has never shot less than 30% from beyond the season’s arc and has been trending dramatically in recent years. However, when guarded by Towns, the reigning MVP struggles to make shots. Jokic is averaging a chilly 23.6 percent from deep on 3.1 attempts per game in the eighteen regular-season games they’ve played against each other.
Towns is a mobile big man who can defend opposing centers on the perimeter, which is a far cry from Jokic’s customary drop defense. The same cannot be said about Jokic, whose lack of lateral agility limits his defensive ability on the perimeter. It’s no surprise that Towns has shot 38.7% from three-point range while facing the Nuggets, since there isn’t the same degree of pressure on the perimeter.
When the two players face each other, Jokic has a 2-to-1 advantage in triple-double games, while Towns has a 13-to-6 advantage in double-double games (Triple double games were excluded in this count).
Town’s advantage in double-double attempts also hint to his toughness in the post and on the boards, which can frequently force Jokic out of his comfort zone.
Towns vs. Jokic preseason matchup, Minnesota Timberwolves
Many of the prior match-up information held true in yesterday’s matchup between the Timberwolves and Nuggets: Towns utilized his strength to stifle Jokic around the hoop after he shot badly from deep. Jokic, on the other hand, won the statistical battle, ending one rebound shy of a triple-double.
Towns can take heart from his performance, knowing that his emphasis on defensive effort and battling to challenge every shot will continue to pay rewards for the rest of the season (and more likely, his career). Towns have been viewed for far too long as an offensive weapon with defensive weaknesses, and striving to fix those flaws is an ideal development path. With seven contested shots under his belt, we’re starting to see a more focused Towns, and long may it continue.
Towns was unable to punish the Nuggets from deep, shooting 0-for-3, but it’s preseason, and everyone is trying to shake off the rust. When the regular season begins later this month, Towns will have plenty of opportunity to even up the regular season score with Jokic.
Overall, Jokic won this battle of two dominant big men, as he managed the offense and fought for rebounds on both ends of the court. Towns’ habit of giving up easy fouls raised its ugly head once more, and it’ll be another facet of his in-season development to keep an eye on. Regardless of the particular match-up, the Timberwolves won yet another preseason game to improve to 2-0, keeping the positive sentiments and momentum going in the right direction.