Anthony Edwards may be one of the most electric players off the court, but his game has started to draw the attention of basketball fans everywhere, too. Edwards has shown the incredible ability to get buckets wherever he wants, which is essential for a high-volume scorer.
Ant compiled 19.3 points per game from the field on 16.8 shots per game, making seven of those a game (41.7%) and shooting just below league average from downtown at 32.9% on 7.2 attempts — making 2.4 a game. He got to the line for 3.8 free-throw attempts a game, making 2.9 for 77.6%. This ability to get buckets came even easier for him as the season settled in and he began to show his natural talent and his spot in the elite tier of young scorers in this league.
The season started off shaky for him. He had a hectic past year, reclassifying himself from the 2020 high school class to the 2019 class, joining a very average University of Georgia basketball team, and having to carry the load for them. Then life happened fast. He was drafted on Nov. 18th and played his first career game against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 23rd. He had no summer league experience and barely enough practice time because of the pandemic-altered league calendar.
Not to mention he didn’t begin to play organized basketball until he was 15. As a result, he was one of the most inefficient players in the first half of the season.
But things started to click in the second half.
He settled into form, showing big highlight plays but also increasing his efficiency along the way. Ant’s cumulative stats are impressive after such an unorthodox season. After putting himself in the running for Rookie of the Year, how does Edwards compare statistically to some of the best players during their own rookie years, knowing none of them entered the league during a pandemic-shortened season?
Let’s start with Anthony, who the Denver Nuggets took third overall out of Syracuse in 2003.
Melo came into the league as an elite three-level scorer with great splits. True shooting is used to equal out the eras. Ant’s numbers compare well statistically. The only notable difference is free-throw attempts. Melo was much better at getting to the line, giving him a slight points per game advantage.
Ant is just a small step behind Melo’s 19-year-old season, and Melo became a generational scorer in his prime. For Ant to replicate anywhere near his incredible rookie season is a great sign for the Wolves.
How about Doncic, the third-overall selection by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018?
Luka is the leading ball handler but still has the incredible ability to get buckets. This more recent comparison shows that Luka and Ant are very similar from the field as scorers. What separates Luka is his ability to get to the free-throw line more frequently.
Luka had a historic Rookie of the Year season where he put up ridiculous numbers. What’s crazy here is that Ant had such a shaky beginning to the season. Luka has as high of a ceiling as any player currently in the NBA, and for Ant to be comparable to him statistically should be a good omen.
How about the player who has been heavily compared to Ant? Well, if Wade is going to make the comparison, who are we to stop him?
Ant compares favorably to Wade, statistically and stylistically. Wade did a great job early in his career attacking downhill and using his frame to get to the rim. This is evident in his above-average true shooting percentage in his rookie season. Ant has the edge from downtown, even on more attempts.
Edwards has also shown a great ability to pass out of drives, displaying playmaking skills similar to D-Wade’s. He has many abilities he can grow into moving forward, and it’s not far-fetched to think that Ant could become a Wade type of player.
Because Edwards compares statistically to three of the league’s best scorers, we know he has the ability to put the ball in the basket at a standard efficiency for a rookie who is blossoming into a star. The Ant who emerged in the second half of the season earned the role of Minnesota’s primary scorer and proved worthy of being taken first overall last year.
When Edwards begins to get his steady whistle, similar to these other young prospects at the time, the league should watch out for the Ant-man.