Final Spot on All-NBA 1st Team Boiling Down to Anthony Edwards vs Jayson Tatum

Anthony Edwards, Jayson Tatum
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves continued their quest for the West’s No. 1 seed on Tuesday vs Houston when they collected their 52nd win of the season. There are still two weeks left of the regular season, but it’s as good a time as any to discuss the battle going on between Anthony Edwards and Jayson Tatum for the final spot on the All-NBA 1st Team.

The Athletic did put out an NBA Awards prediction feature on Tuesday and it highlighted just how close the fight between Ant and Tatum is, as we come around the home stretch of the regular season. Out of three voters, Edwards grabbed one vote for 1st Team, Jayson got the other two. All other names were the exact same between the three voters (Shai, Jokic, Luka, Giannis).

All-NBA 1st Team Predictions:

First Team Predictions (The Athletic):

  • Josh RobbinsShai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nikola Jokić, Luka Dončić, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Edwards
  • Will GuilloryNikola Jokić, Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderGiannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić and Jayson Tatum
  • Kelly IkoNikola Jokić, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Anthony Edwards and Jayson Tatum have been neck and neck all season, but they only have a few games left to showcase their skills before the postseason. Currently, their statistics are as follows:

Timberwolves superstar vs Celtics Superstar:

anthony edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Edwards – 72 Games: 26.1 PPG | 5.6 RPG | 5.2 APG | 112 O-Rate | 110 D-Rate

Jayson Tatum – 71 Games: 27.2 PPG | 8.3 RPG | 4.9 APG | 129 O-Rate | 110 D-Rate

While Tatum may have a slight statistical edge, consider who has had a greater impact on their team and is more valuable to their success. Some argue for Edwards, while others support Tatum. Robbins may favor Edwards for his first team but doesn’t like leaving Tatum off.

I don’t take leaving Tatum off my first-team ballot lightly. His case is an example of the kind of gut-wrenching choices I mentioned earlier. He’s not only a great player, but also the best player on the league’s best regular-season team. That’s one of the many choices I’ll re-evaluate constantly over the next two weeks. 

Josh Robbins – The Athletic

Related: Timberwolves Hold Off Rockets; Climb Back Up West Standings

Iko’s current stance favors Tatum over Edwards, though he acknowledges this assessment could shift as the regular season concludes in the next two weeks. Initially, he leaned towards Edwards due to his commitment to defensive improvement but ultimately opted for Tatum.

Again, this might not be what my final ballot will look like in two weeks. I think four out of the five names on the first team will be on every voter’s ballot, but the fifth name (I ultimately went with Tatum) might differ. I was going to originally give Edwards the nod over Tatum because of his commitment to consistent defensive improvement, coupled with a Wolves roster much less explosive than the Celtics’ and a team that will finish the regular season on the cusp of 60 wins. Edwards has taken the league by storm this season and has been one of its five best players, in my opinion. Simply remarkable. But the Celtics, led by Tatum, are in the midst of a historical season. 

Kelly Iko – The Athletic

Related: Those in the Know Do Not Believe A-Rod and Marc Lore End Up with Timberwolves

Iko suggests that Edwards deserves to be 1st Team too. He gives the edge to Tatum, however, because of the Celtics’ historical season? I mean, the Celtics have had “historic” seasons a bunch of times. The Timberwolves have a legitimate chance at tying, possibly even surpassing their franchise-best 58-24 record from 2003-04. Sounds pretty historic to me…

Rudy Gobert, Jaden McDaniels Recognized on Defense

With odds at -4000 on most sportsbooks to secure the Defensive Player of the Year title, Rudy Gobert is all but a sure-fire lock for All-Defense 1st Team. Iko even included fellow Timberwolf Jaden McDaniels on his all defensive 1st Team, as well.

Personally, I put a considerable amount of stock into the Wolves leading the league in defensive rating and the two pillars that made that feat possible — Gobert on the interior and McDaniels on the perimeter.

Kelly Iko – The Athletic

The Timberwolves organization is experiencing a truly historic season. Regardless of the playoff outcome, individual players are poised for a bright future and recognition. And keep an eye on the showdown between Edwards and Tatum for the remainder of the regular season. You know that if fans and media members see that final spot as up for grabs between the two of them, those two are feeling it too.

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