With only two seasons in the NBA under his belt, Anthony Edwards has already solidified himself as one of the league’s most intriguing players. With a larger-than-life personality and superstar potential, it’s apparent why the now 21-year-old’s talents have become such a precious commodity, and not just in terms of basketball.
From having a borderline All-Star season to having a major role in the Netflix sports comedy-drama Hustle, the last year of Edwards’ career has been as lively as he is. After garnering such attention, it was only a matter of time before we saw the Georgia native gain interest from other brands to endorse their products. Last week, Edwards became one of Sprite’s newest ambassadors, starring alongside Atlanta Hawks All-NBA guard Trae Young in a new commercial to promote the soft drink’s new bottle.
To commemorate the Sprite endorsement, Zion Olojede of Complex sat down with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ rising star to discuss hoops and Hollywood.
I’m sure there’s a niche for those who enjoy reading about sodas and new soda bottles. But odds are that Wolves fans were much more interested in their team’s star talking basketball. But in typical Edwards fashion, he managed to blindside fans with his word choice. When asked if he felt he needed more time to become a part of the ‘best player in the league’ conversation, the seemingly always confident Georgia kid gave a somewhat irregular answer:
Olojede: “On that note, where do you rank yourself amongst the best players in the league. Do you think you still need time to reach to be in that best player category?”
Edwards: “Yeah for sure. I need another year. After this year, I think I’ll be in the (best player) conversation.”
Olojede: “So after this upcoming season, you’ll be in the convo for best player in the league?”
Edwards: “Yeah for sure.”
And although Edward’s remarks about his potential to be a top NBA player don’t necessarily showcase his humbleness, Ant’s self-awareness to say he needs some additional time is still a rather significant development.
Nearly two years ago, Edwards sat down with Marney Gellner of Bally Sports North to discuss his ability to excel in any athletic feat, claiming to be “A1 from Day 1.” At the time, it seemed as if nothing could affect the then teenager’s unwavering self-belief. But as he has grown both in mind and body, Edwards is beginning to understand how the media affects the game.
It would have been easy for Ant to state he was ready to become a legitimate MVP candidate come Year 3. Luka Doncic and Ja Morant did it. Edwards’ name would have likely begun to trend online, only furthering his status as an up-and-coming superstar. But he didn’t say that. Instead, he insinuated that his game still needs some time to develop before we can say his name in the same breath as, say, LeBron James or Stephen Curry. And that may be the best mindset he can have for himself and his team this season.
Set to enter his third season in the league this season, Edwards hasn’t even been in the NBA for two calendar years. He understands this, given his comments to Olojede. Stating that he’ll be in the MVP race next year could’ve been detrimental to Minnesota’s chances at success next season. A comment of such magnitude would’ve erupted on Twitter, and Ant would likely be asked about his interview answer sometime during the season. While mostly asked in a harmless manner, interview questions can wreak havoc on how a player performs if he’s not living up to expectations. For a player on a team looking to make some serious noise in a loaded Western Conference, outside noise is likely the last thing Ant or his team want next season.
Anthony Edwards’ comments about his chances of becoming a top player in the league should be interpreted as he laid them out. We may not see MVP Ant this season, and that’s okay. Minnesota’s front office has done a great job building upon the team’s foundation this summer. He’s got plenty of time to further his craft to become the best basketball player he can be. Still, the spotlight will be on the rising star and his teammates more than ever. And he’ll need to become that sort of ‘top player’ soon if he hopes to bring a championship to the Twin Cities.