Timberwolves

Is Anthony Edwards Really the Next Dwyane Wade?

Photo Credit: Chuck Cook (USA TODAY Sports)

With reports of Anthony Edwardslooking like a monster” this off-season, the 21-year-old Georgian has been a recent topic of discussion for the national media. Last week on the Point Forward podcast, NBA Hall of Famer and Utah Jazz governor Dwyane Wade joined hosts Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner to discuss a wide range of topics. During the show, the trio briefly discussed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ rising star.

“Coach was watching film with him, and I was like, damn, this kid [Edwards] is talented,” claimed Wade. “I watched him, and it looked like he had a LeBron [James] body in high school. … This kid is very, very talented. And I’m 6’4,” and he’s about what? … 6’7″, 6’8″?”

After Iguodala’s in-depth breakdown of Edwards’ actual height, he continued to laud Ant for his game. “The kid came at me full-speed one time, and he did an in-and-out. There was absolutely nothing I could do,” Iguodala said in praise of Edwards. “I’m like, ‘it’s time for me to wrap it up. He’s like you (Wade). He can change directions, split pick-and-rolls, and he’s explosive.”

People constantly compare the young talent in today’s game to those that came before them. It’s an exercise that allows fans and experts to convince themselves that the league is in good hands moving forward. Sometimes these comparisons are noteworthy. Think back to when people compared Ja Morant to De’Aaron Fox. Other times, not so much. Luka Doncic‘s pre-draft player-comp was Hedo Türkoğlu. Regardless of who players are compared to, the practice holds almost no value when properly evaluating the potential of up-and-coming players.

However, there are some similarities between Edwards and Wade’s games.

The Eye Test

On the court, Edwards and Wade look eerily similar in looks and playstyle. Like Edwards, Wade was a 6’4″ 2-guard. Like Wade, Edwards reportedly weighs somewhere around the 220-lb. mark. Both players possess(ed) explosive speed and leaping ability and utilize(d) their agility and size to blow past opposing defenses, often finishing at the rim over their defenders.

 

The Numbers

Look at the Edwards and Wade’s numbers after their first two seasons. They are strikingly similar.

They averaged nearly identical stats in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks per game.

The Differences

There are three main differences between Edwards and Wade. The first is shooting. Coming out of Georgia and Marquette, respectively, talent evaluators and fans heavily criticized Ant and D-Wade for their incompetencies as three-point shooters. Wade only shot 29% from three for his career. However, Edwards has proven to be a reliable marksman from deep, knocking down 34% of his near-eight attempts per night.

The next difference is that Wade was a much better facilitator. However, Edwards has all the needed tools to eventually become as good, if not better, of a passer than Wade. Ant will play alongside three All-Star players this season, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert. If Jaden McDaniels can become a reliable threat from beyond the arc next season, we could see Edwards average upwards of 5.5 to 6 assists per contest!

The last major aspect of Wade’s game that Edwards is missing is defense. While Ant has improved as an on-ball defender, he lacks the defensive effort Wade often showcased. Watch any Wade highlights, and his ability to be a thief in the passing lanes will surely be the cause for a good chunk of his spectacular fast-break dunks. Sure, Edwards gets lucky now and then when playing the passing lanes. But more than not, we see Ant either rotate late or end up completely out of position altogether. Wade finished his career with three All-Defensive Second-Team honors. The Timberwolves are looking to chase a ring soon, so they’ll need their star to play some D-Wade level defense.

Is it still fair to compare Edwards to Wade? Coming into the league, people compared Edwards to Wade because of his combination of size, speed, and inconsistencies as a shooter. But Anthony Edwards isn’t Dwyane Wade. He’s his own player and will have his own career. Timberwolves fans can only hope he helps bring Minnesota its first NBA parade as Wade did for South Beach.

But it would be foolish to think that Edwards will bring the Wolves to the promised land in his third season simply because Wade did so with the Heat. Winning an NBA championship is the hardest thing to do in basketball. For now, Edwards needs to continue on his current trajectory. Maybe then, with a little bit of luck and improved defense, Ant can have a similar career to D-Wade’s.

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Gobel Trouble and @WesTheWolvesFan

Photo Credit: Chuck Cook (USA TODAY Sports)

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