All Hail the Ant-Man!

In what has been a really interesting NBA season filled with parody, suspense, and competitive play, one of the league’s most exciting players this season has been rookie shooting guard Anthony Edwards for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Between all the SportsCenter Top-10 worthy poster dunks and the flashes of a James Harden-like offensive arsenal, Edwards has slowly played himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate this season.

This is a guy who I personally criticized early in the season for his lack of aggression on the offensive end and the fact that he was not much of an impact player despite going No. 1 overall in this past year’s draft. Nonetheless, throughout the season he has slowly developed a stronger, more consistent offensive package and is starting to really utilize the god-given athleticism that helped propel him to the top of draft boards.

But this week, in particular, Anthony Edwards displayed the peak potential of what he was projected to become coming out of the University of Georgia. That is why this week I have to shine a bright spotlight on Edwards as he has come along very strong in the second half of the season thus far. So, this week Anthony Edwards is running solo as my lone Hooper of the Week!

If you have not been paying attention, Edwards has been on an absolute tear for the Minnesota Timberwolves as of late and a lot of this may be attributed to the absence of Malik Beasley. It was announced on February 25th that the T-Wolves starting shooting guard would be suspended for 12 games as punishment for pleading guilty to a felony count of threats of violence as part of an incident that took place back in September.

With Beasley out, this has created an opportunity for Edwards to get some more run in the starting role at his natural position. With more time and better opportunities to be aggressive on the offensive end, he has really blossomed as a scorer. Since Beasley’s suspension, Edwards has scored 20 or more points in eight of the last nine games and has had at least five rebounds in six of those games.

It started on Sunday, February 14th when he dropped a career-high 34 points along with four rebounds and two assists while shooting 6-of-14 from three in a 114-112 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. He then followed that up with a 29-point performance in a blowout loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. He did still play solid but unfortunately, the combination of Montrezl Harrell, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kyle Kuzma off the bench for the Lakers was just too much for Minnesota to handle.

Then just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for Edwards, he goes out and drops 42 points against the No. 2 seeded Phoenix Suns, which surpassed the career-high performance he just had earlier in the week. He also had seven rebounds, two steals, and took a career-high 13 free throw attempts (shot 8-of-13 from the line). Capping off the week with a rematch against Phoenix, Edwards nearly dropped a triple-double with 11 points, ten rebounds, and six assists along with a steal and block despite struggling to hit shots throughout the entirety of the game (4-of-18 shooting from the floor).

Not that Malik Beasley is not a serviceable starter at the two-guard spot for the T-Wolves, but it is clear as day that his absence has unleashed Edwards in a way that has allowed him to show off his full package. With the way Edwards is playing and the trade deadline only 48 hours or so away, Minnesota may want to strongly consider moving Beasley for future assets and more young talent. This will benefit Edwards’ development in hopes that he will close out the year strong and it allows Minnesota to possibly acquire some more draft capital to build out the future of this young team.

Across the NBA, there is a pretty strong consensus that Charlotte Hornets rookie phenom LaMelo Ball is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year but, if Edwards is able to keep up on this trajectory, he might be able to grow a strong enough case to get some significant consideration from voters.

 

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Jesse Murray
Jesse Murray
2 years ago

Malik Beasley. Who would make a good trade dance partner? Maybe they should unload Rubio and Russel and Beasley could run the point or Nowell and go 3 guard line up? Naw that wouldn’t work but what is your opinion on best decision for Edwards and Timberwolves?