Timberwolves

Is Anthony Edwards Pushing Himself Too Far?

Photo Credit: Allison Farrand-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Edwards has only sat out ten times through his first 198 games since the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him first overall in 2020. Being available every night is crucial, especially for team leaders.

Kobe Bryant was one of the league’s most fierce competitors and compelling leaders and became known for refusing to sit games regardless of fatigue or injuries.

From 2000 to 2013, Bryant led a Los Angeles Lakers team that won five championships. But while the Mamba was able to last 20 incredible years in the NBA, players who fight through injuries often cut their careers short.

Fortunately, Edwards has been blessed with relative health through his first two-and-a-half seasons in the NBA. However, we saw Ant take a nasty fall against the Milwaukee Bucks just over two weeks ago, landing hard on his left hip.

Edwards remained on the sideline, not moving, just groaning in pain. After what seemed like hours, Ant stood up and started to head to Minnesota’s locker room. However, he stopped on the bench, attempting to gather himself. If he were to exit the game and not shoot his free throws, his night would be over. So, of course, Ant limped back onto the floor and drilled both attempts.

With only four minutes left in an already-decided Wolves loss, Ant remained in the game and would finish with 30 points on the night – scoring 8 of them after his fall.

Edwards appeared to be fine after the game, and with the Wolves heading back home for a matchup against the 9-29 Detroit Pistons less than 24 hours later, It seemed a perfect game for Ant to take the night off and regroup before the Denver Nuggets came to town on January 2nd.

Being that he’s Anthony Edwards, the 21-year-old would have no part in that, as he played 39 minutes against Detroit. He finished with 30 points on 10-for-21 (47.6%) from the floor, with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Despite Minnesota’s tough loss, Ant seemed no worse for wear.

Still, the Timberwolves ruled Edwards out at some point in two of the team’s next three games. Most recently, when the Wolves were in Detroit a few nights ago, Ant took a hard hit to the lower chest and appeared pretty shaken up. He headed to the bench grabbing at that left hip again, and the team ruled him out for the remainder of the game.

However, after Ant went down, things started to go south for the Wolves. They trailed by one heading into halftime and allowed the Pistons to go on a 14-7 run out of the break. Edwards saw this and decided his night wasn’t over, checking back into the game late in the third quarter.

Edwards finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-18 (44%) from the floor, but it was evident that he wasn’t feeling 100% and shouldn’t have returned to the game. Furthermore, Chris Finch let his starters ride all the way up until the final buzzer, and Ant played a total of 24 minutes.

There have been some opportunities for Ant to take a game off in the recent schedule. However, his teammates aren’t giving him the option to rest; the offensive flow gets significantly worse when Ant’s on the bench. We saw this in the first half Saturday night as the Wolves welcomed the 27-16 Cleveland Cavaliers into Target Center.

Heading into halftime down by five, Edwards was the only source of offense as he was leading the Wolves with 17 points. No one else was even in double figures.

First-half boxscore:

The Timberwolves hung on to win the game 110-102 due largely to Naz Reid’s 17 points complementing Minnesota’s bench coming to the party, which allowed Ant to rest late in the game.

For the first time in a long time, the Wolves were able to win a game and dominate stretches without Edwards on the floor.

Every team relies on its best player to make the best plays. However, working guys past their limits when injured may cause problems in the long run.

Ant is probably perfectly happy with his increased role since Karl-Anthony Towns went down. However, everyone from the starters to the last man in the rotation must execute their role every night. That doesn’t mean you need to have the bench combine for 56 points every game, as we saw Saturday. Instead, the other players need to put Ant in a position where he doesn’t feel like dropping 30+ points and playing more than 40 minutes is the only way to win a basketball game.

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