All NBA legends have their origin story. In 1986, Michael Jordan scored 63 points against the Boston Celtics in the first round, leading Larry Bird to say, “that was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Kobe Bryant was an NBA champion by age 21. And a 22-year-old LeBron James had 48 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in game five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals to help lead Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes, and Drew Gooden to the NBA Finals.
All of the all-time greats have that moment where we collectively know they’re on a path to glory. Now it’s Anthony Edwards’ turn to write his name in the history books. It’s time for him to turn in a legendary performance in Game 6 to keep the Minnesota Timberwolves alive.
It might seem insane to already place 20-year-old Anthony Edwards’ name alongside three of the greatest players in NBA history. Only 17 months ago, pundits compared him to Dion Waiters during the run-up to the 2020 NBA Draft. But Edwards has shown so many glimpses of greatness in his first two seasons that the narrative is beginning to shift. He’s receiving some major plaudits for his first playoff performance. He’s already a bonafide star and on the verge of becoming a global superstar if he can produce a truly memorable performance. What better time to start writing his legend than in the biggest game this franchise has played in since Game 6 of the 2004 Western Conference Finals.
If anyone knows that Edwards is destined for greatness, it’s Edwards himself. In only his sophomore season, Edwards carries himself with a charming youthful exuberance mixed with the killer instincts of a 10-year vet. He’s already anointed himself as an MVP candidate next season and said he’ll be Michael Jordan if he grows to 6’6”. He answered Patrick Beverley’s call for each player to understand their role when the Wolves were 4-9 by simply by saying he needs to “dominate.” Edwards understands the moment. He knows what it could mean for his team’s fortunes this season and his legacy.
Watching this team through the first five games of the playoffs and the play-in game, Edwards stands out among his veteran teammates as arguably the calmest and most even-keeled player on the floor. It’s that steely demeanor for a guy who can’t even legally drink that should give Timberwolves fans hope for a miracle comeback. It should also scare the hell out of the Memphis Grizzlies.
For all the viral moments and insane highlights Ant generated in his first two seasons, he’s also had a few truly breakout moments on the court. There was the KAT and Ant pair of 40-point games in a win over the Phoenix Suns last year. Edwards scored 49 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished eight assists in the penultimate regular-season game against the San Antonio Spurs. And, of course, his first career playoff game where he scored 36 points in a surprising game one win over Memphis.
When the lights come on, he shows up to the tune of 24.2 points, four rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game through his first five career playoff games on 62.1 percent true shooting. Ant is turning into a well-rounded basketball player before our eyes, and it will all be on display on Friday night in the Target Center.
Game 6 is the perfect scenario for Edwards to begin his reign as one of the biggest stars in the NBA. Let’s say he goes off for 50 points, and the Wolves win to force Game 7 in Memphis. Edwards is a folk hero in the Twin Cities for the rest of his life and an official NBA superstar. If he lays a dud and the Wolves lose, we’ll all just brush it off as inexperience. We’ll know he’ll be back next year better than ever. It allows him to play with no fear and just go out and ball out and let the chips fall where they may.
Edwards has quickly become the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves and arguably the second most popular player in franchise history behind Kevin Garnett. That gap will begin to close if he can pull off a series of huge performances in Games 6 and 7. Garnett is the only player in franchise history to produce a transcendent playoff performance in an elimination game. He had 32 points and 21 rebounds in a Game 7 win over the Sacramento Kings in the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. It’s the game where KG jumped on the scorers’ table, the moment that Edwards and Beverley emulated when the Wolves beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in game two weeks ago.
There’s no doubt that Edwards craves the limelight. He knows he’s great. He wants to be remembered as one of the best ever to play the game of basketball. A huge performance in Game 6 would be the perfect way to kickoff the legend of Anthony Edwards.