Things are finally looking up at Minnesota. After a tumultuous Tom Thibodeau era that resulted in a Jimmy Butler spat, the Timberwolves are going into a different direction with their young star combo of D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way. On top of that, they also have the first overall selection in this year’s draft, an excellent opportunity to inject another immediate contributor, and possibly a future cornerstone.
While Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman reports that LaMelo Ball will be the priority should the Wolves keep their pick, I still believe that Georgia’s Anthony Edwards is the better fit in the Twin Cities. The main reason why the Golden State Warriors have to let go of Russell is that his strength lies in being the team’s primary ball-handler. Russell can’t do that with Steph Curry and Draymond Green, but he can certainly handle the rock as much as he wants to in Minnesota.
With that fact already in place, having Russell and Ball on the same team could lead to more questions than answers. That’s where Edwards enters the picture, and why his multi-dimensional offensive skill set will complement Russell and Towns.
Potent off-ball scoring ability
Edwards had a shaky three-point shooting clip of 29% in his lone year in Georgia, but that was because he often had to chuck it up off the dribble. But there’s no doubt that Edwards’ range goes beyond the NBA line. He should be able to capitalize on the wide-open looks he will have when the defense gravitate towards Russell and Towns.
Edwards’ shot selection is still in question, but playing alongside two offensive stars will minimize those miscues. He is a streaky shooter and his 33-point second-half performance in the Maui Invitational game against Michigan State is concrete evidence that he certainly has the capability to take over.
I would love to see how Edwards will thrive as a spot-up shooter, especially since he had to always handle the ball when he was still with Georgia.
Elite shot-creating skills
Edwards’ greatest strength is his ability to create his own shots off the dribble. His superb agility helps him quickly change speed, and he has the upper body strength to finish with contact inside the paint.
And while it’s true that Ball is the best playmaker in this class, Edwards is no playmaking slouch either. He already has excellent court vision and has displayed confidence in facilitating half-court sets. There’s no doubt that his passing still has tons of room for improvement. But combine that with his already-lethal shot-creating, then the Wolves will have themselves a player who arguably has more potential to be a superstar than Russell.
Having said all these, Edwards still has some glaring weaknesses in his game. His crossovers are getting predictable and he needs to work on a secondary move to counter the defense. Furthermore, he has this tendency of either settling for deep threes or always challenging interior defenders with his penetrations. Edwards has to find a way to create a consistent mid-range shot so as to keep defenders guessing.