When a player is as huge, skilled and mobile as Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, where do you turn?
For the Charlotte Hornets tonight, the proposed counter-measure is power forward Marvin Williams.
While 7-footer Towns is listed as the Timberwolves’ starting center, Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Williams has a much better chance of defending Towns than Charlotte’s three centers when the Hornets and Timberwolves face off tonight.
"Towns, to me, is a (power forward). He shoots 3s and he posts. He’s a difficult matchup (for anyone), but he’d be a bear for a center to guard," Clifford said at Tuesday morning shootaround.
Towns, the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, averages 22.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. He’s shooting a remarkable 42.3 percent from 3-point range and 52.7 percent from the field.
Williams guarded Towns in both of the Hornets’ preseason exhibitions, so he knows all about what he’s facing tonight.
"He’s different in that he’s so tall and long, but he’s so skilled. At his size, he plays like a small forward," Williams said. "He has the ability to put the ball on the court from anywhere and he shoots 3s. He can make passes off the dribble. He’s a tricky cover and he’s going to be that way for a lot of guys for a long time."
Williams says Towns is the foundation of a trend toward centers who are more multi-dimensional players.
"It’s funny how the center position is going. Look at the kid from Philly, Joel Embiid, doing very similar things. They’re similar in that they can handle the ball like a guard," Williams said. "Another one is (New York Knicks big man Kristaps) Porzingis. Because of the way they play, it’s going to be a challenge not just individually, but as a team."
New Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said each opposing roster is a bit different, as far as whether to guard Towns with a power forward or center.
"His skill set is very unusual for a guy his size: To shoot the 3, put the ball on the floor and post up," Thibodeau said.
"You can put quicker feet on him, but then there’s a disadvantage in the post. And then if you put size on him, he can go to the perimeter and hurt you off the dribble. He’s starting to get a better understanding of the looks he’s getting."
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell