Karl-Anthony Towns watched last spring as his friend and former Kentucky teammate Devin Booker advanced to the NBA Finals with Phoenix. He saw another skilled big man in Denver's Nikola Jokic, who at 26 is one year older than Towns, take home the MVP award and another in Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, also 26, win the title.
Towns' generation of the NBA is no longer relegated to sitting on the sidelines while the 30-something stars of the league like LeBron James, James Harden and Kevin Durant got all the hardware.
"It didn't make the vacations any better," Towns said.
When asked Wednesday how big of a chip he had on his shoulder, Towns replied: "Massive."
"This is a big season for me," Towns said. "I've just got to go out there and get it done. I'm prepared to give everything I have. I plan to do that. I'm more than prepared. And to top it off … I'm ready. I'm mentally ready for this season. So it's much different than how I felt coming in last [season]."
Towns feels this way despite the upheaval the organization has experienced recently with the firing of President Gersson Rosas. An exasperated Towns laid out the tribulations he has dealt with when it comes to multiple coaching staffs and front offices during his six-plus seasons at media day. Not to mention all Towns has dealt with in his personal life with the death of his mother and other family members from COVID-19.
“His body looks great. He's had a good summer. He's got confidence. ... So he seems to be in the best mental frame of mind and ready to go. That's all you can ask.”
Wednesday's media session was more focused on how he worked out during the off-season and a little on what to expect defensively from him this season, organizational chaos aside.
Towns said his weight has dropped to around 240 pounds, which is down from his listed weight of 248 last season.
"I joked all summer that I just wanted to be a GI Joe," Towns said. "I took it serious with my training like that. Just looked at it a little different than I'm usually doing."
Towns posted videos of his workouts, which included some boxing sessions, on Instagram, along with the requisite pictures of a more muscular physique. Towns said he consulted with Hall of Famer Ben Wallace on how Wallace conducted his workouts, and added his workouts consisted of "lifting the heaviest dumbbell in the gym."
"I just said, 'Hey I'm gonna get big," Towns said. "I'm going to focus on building muscle mass and not trying to lose weight and all that stuff. That was my focus ...
"Overall I wanted to try a new body type. Really just thought this could take me to the new level."
Towns said there was no specific on-court reason, like getting quicker or improving defensively, for the added bulk. Coach Chris Finch said he noticed Towns' core strength improving, which can help defensively.
Finch might ask Towns to more aggressively guard the ball handler on screens than dropping toward the basket. Perhaps the new physique can also help with that.
"I've always been top of the league in switching onto guards," Towns said, referring to some positive analytics that say he can defend screens well. "That's usually been in my wheelhouse. That's where I'm most comfortable."
Finch said he noticed Towns is in a "great mindset" as the Wolves go through their first week of practices.
"His body looks great," Finch said. "He's had a good summer. He's got confidence. ... So he seems to be in the best mental frame of mind and ready to go. That's all you can ask."
Especially in light of the last week.