T'Wolves take Towns with top pick, Russell goes second

Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:27am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kentucky's versatile big man Karl-Anthony Towns was the expected first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2015 NBA Draft but surprises followed at Barclays Center on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, two once-proud franchises, made big bets on players with potential while two international players were among the top five choices.

Towns, 19, is considered an ideal modern NBA big man with a combination of dominant defense, low post scoring brilliance and an outside shot -- qualities craved by a Minnesota team that has not made the playoffs since 2004.

"I'm going to go in right away and just be as versatile as I can," Towns said. "That's what I want Wolves fans to know. I'm coming in with a winning attitude."

The multi-talented, 6-foot-11 (2.11m) center averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor as a freshman for a University of Kentucky team that went 38-0 in the regular college season.

Then came some twists.

The Los Angeles Lakers made 6-foot-5 (1.95m) guard D'Angelo Russell from Ohio State University the second pick of the draft, defying many prognosticators who had pegged Duke center Jahlil Okafor as going second overall.

Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in steering the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 24-11 record and was thrilled to get a chance to play with Kobe Bryant.   Continued...

Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA draft pick 
Karl-Anthony Towns walks off the stage after being picked first in the 2015 NBA draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports -