Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen at his position.
But is the Timberwolves big man already the best?
“Honestly man, I ain’t gotta play like nobody. I’m me,” Towns said in an interview with The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. “I’m the greatest big man shooter of all time. That’s a fact. You can see the stats. I ain’t got to play like no one else.
“Everyone trying to find themselves to be the second version of me when I’m the first version. I don’t got to be the second version of someone else. I’m already an original. I don’t have to be a duplicate of someone else.”
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Towns has a point. He’s not even a decade removed from being drafted, but he’s already made 697 3-pointers in his career. According to Stathead, that’s the third-most ever by a center, trailing only Channing Frye (1,049) and Kelly Olynyk (708). Not only that, but Towns has been incredibly efficient, knocking down 39.7 percent of his 3-point opportunities to date.
Here’s the full list of centers with an average of one made 3-pointer per game in their careers. Towns is both the most prolific and most efficient of the group by a pretty large margin.
If you isolate it to the most prolific single seasons among centers, Towns’ name is once again all over the list.
There is, of course, one notable name missing from that table: Dirk Nowitzki.
The reason Nowitzki doesn’t show up is because he spent most of his NBA career playing power forward, not center. He made an average of 1.3 3-pointers per game in his Hall of Fame career, and he connected on them at a 38.0 percent clip. In total, he made a grand total of 1,982 3-pointers, ranking him 13th on the league’s all-time leaderboard.
Additionally, Nowitzki will go down as one of the greatest midrange shooters of all time. As ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry detailed, Nowitzki led the league in scoring in three of the four midrange zones — both elbows, plus the right baseline where he picked teams apart with his signature one-legged fadeaway — in the 2000s. He was then the most efficient volume scorer from the left and right baseline in the 2010s, per Goldsberry.
To no surprise, Nowitzki’s 3-point and midrange prowess landed him in the No. 1 spot on Bleacher Report’s ranking of the NBA’s greatest shooting bigs of all time.
So is Towns already one of the best big man shooters in NBA history? Absolutely. But is he the greatest? Nowitzki would probably have something to say about that.