first_imgNEW YORK — The Minnesota Timberwolves got their man in the middle by selecting Karl-Anthony Towns with the first selection in the June 25 NBA draft, while the Los Angeles Lakers got a playmaking partner for Kobe Bryant and New York Knicks fans just got mad — though not for long.Minnesota selected Kentucky center Towns as the first of three straight college freshmen which went with the first three picks before New York chose Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, triggering loud, long boos from skeptical fans inside Barclays Center.They were cheering later in the first round when the Knicks acquired the rights to Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant from Atlanta for Tim Hardaway Jr.Before that, the Timberwolves went for a center in their first time having the No. 1 pick. The selection wasn’t a surprise — though he said he didn’t know until it was announced.“When Mr. Adam Silver came out, I saw him, and he said, ‘With the No. 1 pick’, I was racing,” said Towns, who was sitting with Kentucky coach John Calipari.“I told Coach Cal before when he first came out that I was trying to drink the water and I was shaking uncontrollably, and I told him, ‘Coach, don’t give me the ball right now for the last-second shot. I wouldn’t make it.’”The Los Angeles Lakers then took guard D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State. He drew huge cheers when he was announced but his entourage was dwarfed by that of Towns. The New Jersey native said he had above 50 family and friends in attendance.“This is home to me,” he said. “Been able to come here and have all my closest friends and love ones come out here. It’s the most special moments in my life.”Towns averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game for Kentucky, which reached the Final Four of the college playoffs.It was Kentucky’s third No. 1 pick in six years, joining Anthony Davis in 2012 and John Wall in 2010. The Wildcats were hoping to have a record seven players picked and were well on their way when Sacramento took center Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth pick, Utah grabbed Trey Lyles at No. 12 and guard Devin Booker followed one spot later to Phoenix.“Just shows our team was special. Unlike any other,” Lyles said.But they had to settle for tying the record with six selections, as Dakari Johnson and Andrew Harrison went in the second round, but Aaron Harrison was not picked.For weeks, Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor had been considered the top two selections. But the Lakers skipped Okafor and instead went for Russell, choosing a player who can step right in and play alongside Bryant in what could be the superstar’s final season.“Kobe’s a great dude,” Russell said. “Not knowing how much he has left in the tank is the scary thing. I’m really looking forward to him taking me under his wing if possible and feed me the most knowledge he can and use that as fire against my opponents.”Okafor fell to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3, becoming the 19th lottery selection and a record 29th first-round pick for players schooled at Duke by coach Mike Krzyzewski.Those numbers increased when Miami drafted Justise Winslow 10th and Cleveland took Tyus Jones at No. 24 — though his rights were later dealt to Minnesota.The Knicks changed the pattern of freshmen when they took Porzingis with the No. 4 pick. The 19-year-old forward had been surging in draft previews, but Knicks fans booed lustily, with memories of the acquisition of previous European players Frederic Weis and Andrea Bargnani.“Lot of fans weren’t happy they drafted me,” Porzingis said. “I have to do everything in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans. The fans are harsh sometimes, that’s how it is in New York and I’m ready for it.”Another international player followed, as Orlando took Croatian Mario Hezonja at No. 5, and Emmanuel Mudiay, born in Congo, raised in Texas and a professional last season in China, went seventh to Denver.Detroit took Arizona’s Stanley Johnson eighth before national player of the year Frank Kaminsky went to Charlotte at No. 9.The Lakers later added Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. with the No. 27 pick, while Boston used its two first-round selections on Terry Rozier of Louisville (16th) and R.J. Hunter of Georgia State (28th).The NBA champion Golden State Warriors used the 30th and final pick of the first round on UCLA forward Kevon Looney, who thought he would go higher and instead lasted so long he left the green room before returning shortly before he was selected.(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more