The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, who set franchise rookie records in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage, has unanimously won the 2015-16 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, the NBA announced on Monday. The 7-foot centre becomes the fifth unanimous winner since 1984 and joins teammate Andrew Wiggins, the 2014-15 honouree, to make the Timberwolves the first team with back-to-back winners in 42 years.
Towns received all 130 first-place votes (650 points) from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada, joining Damian Lillard (2012-13 season), Blake Griffin (2010-11), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84) as unanimous winners in the last 32 years. The New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis finished second with 363 points, and the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic was third with 59 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
The No 1 overall pick in NBA Draft 2015 presented by State Farm, Towns led all rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg, eighth in the NBA) and ranked second in blocks (1.68 bpg, 10th in the NBA) – making him the league’s only player to reach those averages in the three categories. He also ranked third in the NBA in double-doubles (51) and eighth in field goal percentage (54.2). Towns was one of six players in the league to start all 82 games.
The 20-year-old Towns swept all six Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards on his way to becoming the seventh rookie in NBA history to average at least 18 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks and shoot 50 percent or better from the field. Since blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74, the other players to post those numbers are Sampson (1983-84), Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-85), Robinson (1989-90), Alonzo Mourning (1992-93), Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93) and Tim Duncan (1997-98).
Before last season, the Timberwolves had never had a Kia NBA Rookie of the Year winner since joining the NBA for the 1989-90 season. With Towns and Wiggins now honoured in back-to-back years, the Timberwolves are the first team with consecutive winners since the Buffalo Braves in 1972-73 (Bob McAdoo) and 1973-74 (Ernie DiGregorio).
Towns receives the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy, which is named in honour of one of the NBA’s founders. Gottlieb coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the NBA’s first championship, in 1946-47.
As part of its support of the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, Kia Motors America (KMA) will donate a brand new Sorento CUV to the Minnesota Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Towns’ behalf. Kia will present a 2016 Sorento to the charity of choice of each of five 2015-16 year-end award winners as part of the Kia NBA Performance Awards. Following this season, Kia will have donated a total of 43 new vehicles to charitable organisations since its support of the NBA’s prestigious honours began in 2008.