Anthony Edwards was the #1 overall pick in a 2020 NBA draft class that was looked down upon like Marida at a Disney princess reunion. Sure, Gersson Rosas was ecstatic when the Minnesota Timberwolves won the draft lottery but none of the three potential top picks tickled fancies like Cade Cunningham or even Jalen Suggs will in 2021 (or like countless others have in years’ past).
Still, the Wolves front office stood firm at the top of the draft and confidently selected Edwards with the first pick. His scouting report was well-known, coming in. He was strong, athletic and had superstar potential oozing out of him.
BUT, there were questions about Anthony’s motor and just how much he loves the game of basketball. Many awkwardly compared him to Andrew Wiggins, pushing some fans off his bandwagon immediately.
Fast-forward to Valentine’s night, 2021. Anthony Edwards is already blossoming before our eyes. His biggest performance yet came Sunday in a win vs the Toronto Raptors.
If you ask anyone in the Minnesota locker room, Edwards brings just as much to this team off the court, as he does when he’s on it.
Unexpectedly, he’s become a type of glue for a young Timberwolves team that seems broken beyond repair. Edwards shows a youthful leadership and optimistic presence that this team has desperately needed for nearly two decades.
After a breakout performance last night, in part due to an offensive change that put the ball in his hands more often, Ricky Rubio and KAT lauded Edwards for what he’s brought to this organization. The quotes are pretty jarring (in the best way).
Apparently, it’s difficult to be down on yourself when Anthony Edwards is around.
A lot of that spirit, the players said, comes from the youngest player on the team. Edwards is such a vibrant, happy-go-lucky presence in the Wolves locker room that it apparently has started to catch on with the rest of the team. Ricky Rubio had his best shooting night of the season, and he attributed it in part to Edwards’ refreshing attitude. It’s no secret that Rubio has been miserable with the losing and with his own performance, but he said that it was Edwards who has helped him stay positive, who has helped change his face.
“The young guys like Ant really keeping this spirit up and it really helped me in pushing me to get the best out of me,” Rubio said. “That’s how we help each other. This is a team and when things aren’t going our way, that’s why we have each other’s back and I think me and him are building good chemistry.”Jon Krawczynski – The Athletic (+ Rubio quote)
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) February 15, 2021
“This team believes in Ant so much and sees his potential and greatness,” Towns said. “And for me, I’ve told Ryan that we need to get the ball into Ant’s hands more, and I think tonight is one of those nights we see me and Ryan’s conversations. I think Ant is an underrated playmaker, and he’s really good at obviously causing mayhem getting to the paint and making people collapse. he makes the right plays a lot of the time, so it’s always great to have a bona fide bucket-getter, but his ability to play make out of it is underrated.”Karl-Anthony Towns (via The Athletic)
None of this surprises me. Just watch his first sit-down interview with Marney Gellner (FSN) from last month. He’s an impossible guy not to like. He’s honest, innocent and funny. His positive energy is infectious and even addictive. Without meeting him, you are drawn into his personality.
When asked about his big performance on Valentine’s night, and how he felt about his evolving role on this team, Edwards answered like only he can. There’s nothing that makes this kid sweat. His self-aware, confident nature shines through his bright smile like a beam of hope down a long dark hallway of past Timberwolves’ failures.
Ant on his locker room role with Wolves
Anthony Edwards is 19 years old. Wise so far beyond his years. pic.twitter.com/1QlpGIfaoi— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) February 15, 2021
“I feel like it’s my job to keep the spirit around because everybody’s older than me and I feel like I’m the life of the team as far as spirit,” Edwards said. “I come into practice happy, loud every day because I’m young. I’ve got so much energy. I just feel like guys like Ricky, he always give me advice. Even though he don’t think he’s been shooting well, I’m happy he’s been shooting the ball. I try to give him confidence, same as (Josh Okogie), same as (Jarred Vanderbilt). I try to give everybody as much confidence as I can.”
The Wolves needed him more than ever on Sunday. They were holding on for dear life at the end of the game when Towns fouled out. The Wolves had let a 10-point lead get whittled to two, 112-110 with 22 seconds left. Edwards took the ball and went right to the basket, drawing a foul. He made both free throws, and the Wolves finally closed one out.
“I felt like it was my time to step up and show that I can go to the line and knock ’em down,” Edwards said.Jon Krawczynski – The Athletic (+ Edwards quote)
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan