Minnesota Timberwolves: A quest to improve Anthony Edwards’ shot profile

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

Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards’ underutilized areas of the floor

The first is as a cutter. When D’Angelo Russell was out, and especially during the stretch when both Russell and Ricky Rubio were unavailable, Edwards was handling the ball and initiating offense quite a bit. Even with Russell back, we saw a lot more of this late in games against Sacramento and Indian this week.

But in non-crunchtime situations, allowing Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns to handle the ball on the perimeter and utilize Edwards’ size and athleticism as a cutter seems like a no-brainer. Edwards is scoring 1.35 points per possession (PPP) as a cutter, but he’s only being used that way 3.5 percent of the time or 0.7 possessions per game.

Part of that is his fault, as Finch’s offensive system calls for instinctive cuts to back-fill areas of the floor, and Edwards is far too often content to stand on the perimeter and wait for a pass to come to him to either launch a 3-pointer or drive to the basket. But Finch could always force the issue a bit more and allow Towns, Russell, and Rubio to operate with the ball in their hands with Edwards diving to the rim and receiving passes already in a position to score or be fouled.

Edwards has also been quite good in post-ups. This feels like more of a break-in-case-of-mismatch situation, as it’s unclear whether or not Edwards actually has a bag of tricks in the post. But we’ve seen him find success in the low post a handful of times this season, including when he sealed off Chris Paul a pair of times late in his 42-point performance in the Wolves’ victory over the Phoenix Suns a few weeks ago.

Edwards’ PPP in the post does not register on the NBA’s stats page because of the low volume, but Bball-Index has him at 1.01 PPP, which would be 94th percentile league-wide.

While it wouldn’t be a winning strategy to call post plays for Edwards with any level of frequency, the Wolves could be more intentional about hunting mismatches for their dangerous rookie scorer. He’s big and strong enough to simply turn and score when anywhere near the basket, and it would also help to increase his free throw rate.

While Edwards is clearly improving as a professional and is clearly a focal point of defensive game plans only 52 games into his promising career, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit out there that would allow him to be that much more effective offensively.

Next. On Anthony Edwards' Rookie of the Year candidacy. dark

Don’t be surprised to see Finch and the coaching staff to get even more creative in getting the ball to Edwards over the season’s final few weeks. It should be a ton of fun to watch.