Anthony Edwards has had a phenomenal start to his career in almost every way. however, given his size and athleticism, the Timberwolves guard still struggles a bit around the rim.
How Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards can improve his scoring at the rim
Anthony Edwards had one of the worst games of his season on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings, but given that the Timberwolves won by 20 anyway, the team should be more concerned by the underlying issue that caused the performance rather than the fact that it happened.
Edwards is among the strongest and most explosive offensive threats in the entire league, and that is why it is strange that he seems to struggle to score on seemingly simple paint opportunities.
Against the Kings, Edwards made just two of his seven attempts right at the basket, blowing enough chances that even the Kings announcers sounded surprised.
Edwards is only in his second season in the NBA and is just 20 years old, so he has plenty of time to learn and grow. With that in mind, take this as a recommendation for a focus in his development rather than an insult: He needs to add some more refinement to his driving finishes.
The two specific areas that need improvement are clear: He needs to add more touch and get better at drawing fouls.
Among 42 players with at least 200 field goal attempts in the restricted area, Edwards’ 61.8-percent mark ranks 31st per NBA.com. Now, that’s not that bad when you consider a lot of the players ahead of him are frontcourt players with size advantages, but there are backcourt guys like Ja Morant and Bradley Beal who rank well ahead of Edwards and who provide marks to strive for.
The touch is the most notable issue I see with Edwards’ misses. The ball comes out of his hand a bit hard, and that can cause him to lose control and spray shots all over the place.
Edwards has already shown some progression with his footwork around the basket, breaking out some euro-steps and other change-of-pace-and-direction moves to get himself improved looks.
Still, he has to improve his accuracy finishing against contests, and the best way to do that is learning to shoot a softer ball.
The good news is that this seems unusually viable for Edwards. Part of him overdelivering on his outside shooting in the NBA as compared to pre-draft expectations is that he has always had good touch, as evidenced by his strong free throw percentage since college, and his shot creation has improved to raise the overall performance.
Edwards has the natural ability to take the edge off his shots; it’s just a matter of him working at it.
Drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line is another concern that can be addressed with skill development. Among 46 players with at least 900 minutes played this season and a usage rate of 25 percent or higher, Edwards’ 8.97 shooting fouls drawn rate¹ ranks 31st per PBPStats.com.
Most of the players behind him are either small guards, players who rely heavily on pull-up jump shots, or both.
Part of getting more calls is establishing yourself as a top player year after year, which Edwards can only do with time. But there are certainly ways that Edwards can adjust his forays to the basket so that the contact he gets results in more free throws.
Clearly, he has the frame and athleticism to generate contact and handle it. The next step is to add tricks like pump fakes and ball exposure to get defenders to bite.
If Edwards can add to his game in these two specific areas, he will see his production on drives to the rim increase significantly.
¹ – shooting fouls drawn / (FGA + non-and-1 shooting fouls drawn)