Minnesota Timberwolves: Everyone is talking about Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

It’s been quite the week for Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards.

Scratch that — it’s been quite the post-All-Star break run for the No. 1 overall pick. Edwards has averaged 26.1 points and six rebounds per game in the Wolves’ six games since the break, and Minnesota has gone 3-3 during that span.

Even with a 4-for-18 shooting performance in Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, Edwards has shot 43 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc, both better marks than his season numbers to date.

With that success has come plenty of national attention, just as Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball was about to run away and hide with the Rookie of the Year award.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Everyone is talking about Anthony Edwards

Edwards’ 42-point performance in the Wolves’ Thursday win over Phoenix spurred plenty of conversation, to say the least.

On NBA TV, Dennis Scott and Gary Payton talked about the increased frequency with which Edward is attacking the rim, with Payton leaning into the theory that Edwards has certainly been motivated by the Ball-for-ROY talk that has been ongoing for many weeks.

Over at Uproxx, Brandon Kleen highlighted Edwards’ in-game adjustments to the Suns’ defensive plan, as well as his impressive off-ball cutting and working in tandem with Karl-Anthony Towns late in the Wolves’ win.

Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports compiled a short-term rookie ranking, looking only at how rookies have performed since the All-Star break. Again: this is not for the season, but only since the break. Needless to say Edwards ranked first, followed by New York’s Immanuel Quickley and Ball at No. 3.

The most interesting analysis of Edwards’ game was on Bleacher Report, where Jonathan Wasserman graded the top 10 rookies so far, but instead of a simple ranking, Wasserman graded them on a curve set by their expectations based on where they were drafted.

For instance, Ball received an ‘A’, as he was drafted No. 3 but has been the best rookie in the league to this point in the season and by a large margin. Desmond Bane, the Memphis Grizzlies rookie who was the last selection of the first round, received a ‘B+.’

Edwards’ hot steak earned the Wolves rookie a ‘B+’ as well, with Wasserman highlighting his massive improvement coinciding neatly with the hiring of Chris Finch as head coach.

Of course, all of the above assessments point out the obvious: Edwards’ shooting percentages still must improve, although it’s driven largely by shot selection. He’s likely always going to be something of a volume scorer, but the key statistics to watch all center around shot attempts at the rime and foul rate.

To this point, Edwards’ free throw rate remains shockingly low — his .179 mark is No. 11 on the team, which is unacceptable. This is partly due to shot selection, as 28.4 percent of Edwards’ shot attempts are coming within three feet of the basket and 41.5 percent are 3-point attempts. He’s only a 31.9 percent long-range shooter, and while his conversion rate at the rim is still a bit low, Edwards’ size, physicality, and athleticism suggest that he should be attempting a much greater chunk of shots from in close.

Next. It's time for the Wolves to choose their path. dark

Still, if Edwards’ rookie season continues on this trajectory and the Wolves continue to win roughly half of their games — not crazy, considering Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell will return in the next week or two and the schedule softens up considerably — he’ll receive some Rookie of the Year consideration when it’s all said and done.