DETROIT – Karl-Anthony Towns is back in the All-Star game.
NBA coaches selected the Timberwolves center to his third game as a reserve, the league announced Thursday.
The game is Sunday, Feb. 20, in Cleveland.
Towns will be making his first appearance at the game since 2019. The past two seasons, he suffered injuries that hampered his availability and diminished his candidacy. The Wolves' miserable record the past two seasons also didn't help his case. This season, Towns has led the Wolves to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference as of Thursday with 24.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
"He's had an absolutely incredible year," coach Chris Finch said. "He's faced probably more defensive looks than he's ever faced in his past and he's been able to still have an incredibly efficient season to date."
Towns is shooting 52% from the field, 41% from three-point range for a true shooting percentage of 63%, his highest mark in five seasons.
His total numbers aren't as prolific as a season ago, but he has had more help carrying the Wolves' offensive load in D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards while defensively, Towns has played more on the perimeter, which has affected his rebounding numbers.
Towns' ability to play defense more on the perimeter in screening actions has contributed to the Wolves improving from the third-least efficient defense in the league to the 13th-most efficient entering Tuesday.
"Defensively, I think he's been way more impactful than some of his previous seasons," Finch said. "Most importantly, he's a leader of a team who's 26-25 and playing winning basketball and I think he's been instrumental in changing our approach and everything we do."
Towns will join former teammate Andrew Wiggins. The Golden State forward was named a starter for the Western Conference last week.
The Wolves' Anthony Edwards, who was selected to the Rising Stars game, had a chance of also making the game as a reserve but was not selected. He could still join as a reserve if any players drop out.
The West starters are Wiggins, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry and Ja Morant. The reserves are Towns, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Donovan Mitchell and Chris Paul. Green has already said he won't play.
Former Wolves guards Jimmy Butler and Zach LaVine were named as Eastern Conference reserves along with Darius Garland, James Harden, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum and Fred VanVleet. The East starters are Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Trae Young and DeMar DeRozan.