Steve Kerr Loves Anthony Edwards’ Confidence, Hates His Off-Ball Defense

Anthony Edwards, Team USA
Credit: Photo: USA Basketball - (@usabasketball - X)

USA Basketball has kicked off practices and training for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France. Among the superstar players on the roster is Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards. Golden State’s Steve Kerr is the head coach.

Last summer, Anthony Edwards represented Kerr’s Team USA at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where the Wolves’ superstar was the No. 1 option on a young squad that finished in a disappointing 4th place. This summer, however, is different.

Anthony Edwards is playing for a completely different Team USA this summer

Olympic medals are on the line. USA basketball legacy is on the line. Only two players from last year’s FIBA team, Ant and Tyrese Halliburton, are on the Paris roster. Instead of Brandon Ingram, Mikal Bridges, and Jalen Brunson, he is surrounded by a dozen future hall of famers, including LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis.

So what does that mean for Anthony Edwards? If you know anything about Ant, you already know how he feels. Edwards still believes he should be the team’s number one option, but he’s also well aware of the all-time greatness he is surrounded by.

Sounds like Edwards will play plenty in Paris

And what did four-time champion head coach Steve Kerr have to say about Ant’s quote that went viral the other day? He coached Edwards last summer and, by now, the league is well aware of how gifted he is and the quotes he might bring when a microphone is brought to his face. So… let’s just say Kerr wasn’t surprised.

Related: Former Minnesota Gopher Named to Timberwolves Summer League Roster

The subtle quote by Kerr that won’t get enough attention, though, is his mention that Anthony Edwards is one of about six or seven guys on Team USA who SHOULD feel like they are the go-to star, which says a lot about how much Kerr will rely on him in the Olympics.

“I love that Anthony Edwards said that he is the number one option. I want him to think that way. And I want five, six other guys to feel that way too. That’s the beauty of being on this team. These guys, they’re all capable of taking over a game. And I think, as they go, they realize that mentality, that aggressiveness is actually a good thing. Because they are all committed to each other. They don’t want to disappoint one another. They want to make sure that they’re bringing their best energy, best game to the floor every night for their teammates.”

No doubt Edwards will play, and it sounds like he is in the mix for a starting spot, especially with Kevin Durant nursing an injury. But his ticket to more playing time is more defense. He knows that and his Team USA head coach does too.

Kerr wants more out of Minnesota Timberwolves star defensively

But Kerr was specific, regarding Ant’s defensive abilities. He talked about how incredible Edwards was when guarding shooters with the ball. But the USA head coach also noted that Ant was essentially horrible off the ball. He even suggests that Edwards needs to box out better too.

“If he wants to play, he better play defense. That’s the point. The whole point of FIBA is to defend, make stops and get out and run.”

“His on-ball defense last summer was amazing, and it helped change our team and get us better. Frankly, his off-ball defense struggled or suffered, and he needs to get better chasing shooters, staying connected, boxing out.”

Steve Kerr on Anthony Edwards’ defense (via Chris Hine)

If Anthony Edwards can improve on his rebounding and off-ball defense, there is no doubt he will see the floor a lot for Team USA. And if Ant is on the floor, the buckets will come. During last year’s FIBA tournament, he led Team USA in scoring, rebounds, minutes and shot attempts.

  • Edwards 2023 FIBA Tournament: 18.9 PPG, 4.6 REB, 2.8 AST, 25.5 MPG

Timberwolves fans have reason to be thrilled as Anthony Edwards joins basketball legends on the Olympic stage. Beyond this exciting opportunity, they should also anticipate Edwards’ ongoing growth under a strong coaching staff, paving the way for him to evolve into one of the best basketball talents in the world.

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