Not every player decides to put their off-season work regime online. Some prefer to remain under the radar and pounce on opponents once the season starts. Anthony Edwards‘ off-season grind has been everywhere, though. While making any player look good in half-minute-long highlights may be easy, you get the sense that what Edwards is cooking up may be much different.
Edwards, 21, is coming off a stellar sophomore season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He put up 21.3 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 44% from the floor and 36% from three.
On top of his terrific regular season, Edwards caught people’s attention with his performances against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first round of the playoffs. In Edwards’ playoff debut, he stunned the Memphis Grizzlies with 36 points and six assists on 52% from the floor. That outing was the most points scored by a Wolves player in their first career playoff game and the fourth-youngest in NBA history with 30-plus in a playoff game.
During that series, Edwards averaged 25 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on 40% from three and 45% from the floor. He was exceptional last year, no doubt. But to take the Timberwolves to the next level, Edwards will need to be nothing short of spectacular.
“I’ve been working on everything, man,” Edwards said before an event with HEIR, a company creating an NFT community called “Antman’s Army” where members can unlock exclusive Anthony Edwards content. “Just getting better. I’m trying to take that leap this year and be the best player I can be. Trying to take my team as far as we can.”
There were early questions about Edwards’ passion for the game. People compared him to Andrew Wiggins, but as we’ve seen, those reports are not valid. And this off-season is a testament to that.
Some guys are stars. Others are superstars. Edwards looks like he could fall into that latter category very soon. He has the keys to the kingdom in Minnesota, and his job is quite simple. He must be himself and never lose that passion and love for the game.
Edwards had a few goals for himself heading into this offseason. He wanted to improve his shooting from behind-the-arc and inside, one-on-one defending, and his ability to see the whole floor. The need to excel in those categories increases with Minnesota’s additions of Rudy Gobert, Kyle Anderson, and Austin Rivers.
“We’re going to be a really good team,” Edwards said. “I feel like all the trades and signings that we made were really good. I think everybody is going to help out tremendously.”
Edwards has been dubbed a fan favorite in Minnesota. While he has accomplished things two years into his career that some thought might never happen, he still has much to learn and grow from.
What to expect next year
Edwards is coming off a season where he improved in every statistical category and is still far from his ceiling. Becoming the No. 1 option on his team is the first step in becoming the best version of himself.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been Minnesota’s proverbial savior ever since Flip Saunders took a chance on him in 2015. With the Timberwolves’ notoriously poor draft history, hitting the lottery on Towns’ was just what this city and state needed after the Kevin Garnett era.
“I think this year is going to be his best year,” Towns said about Edwards after signing a max contract in July. “I think that he’s going to find himself not only with the experience from last year from not only the playoffs but just the entire year.
“Seeing how people were guarding him, it’s not going to get easier. … Understanding where he’s gonna be able to pick his spots even better, and now with Rudy, I feel like it’s going to be his best year. I think he’s gonna have that leap everyone wants him to do, plus some.”
The Timberwolves can’t contend with Towns as their No. 1 guy. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a generational talent. But he needs to be the Robin to a Batman. Er, well, Antman in this case.
It’s challenging to pin the struggles exhibited by this Wolves team solely on Kat. The help Towns has had through his seven-year career is anything but memorable. Aside from one year with Jimmy Butler, Towns’ supporting cast hasn’t been enough to cultivate winning.
However, Towns will be playing alongside four All-Star caliber players next season. With Edwards being the No. 1 attraction and getting the most shot attempts per night, the sky’s the limit for the future of this team.
The Wolves improved on both sides of the ball this off-season, stealing the best defender in the NBA from the Utah Jazz, obtaining one of the best glue guys in the league, and adding depth from the arc. It’s easy to overlook that they lost depth at point guard. Minnesota only has two true point guards in D’Angelo Russell and Jordan McLaughlin. Therefore, I expect to see the ball in Edwards’ hands, allowing him to actively distribute to his new teammates. This will unlock a part of his game we have yet to see.
If the offseason work pays off for Edwards, he should become Minnesota’s No. 1 option and fall into more of a primary ball-handling role. If that happens, I see no reason why he won’t be a lock for the 2023 All-Star game. All signs point up for Ant and the Timberwolves. Now he and the whole team will have to prove that this isn’t the same Wolves team of the past.