There are many reasons why Minnesota Timberwolves star shooting guard Anthony Edwards is getting so much international attention. After all, Edwards is showing tremendous range, maturity, and elite basketball presence as he helps Team USA navigate the fierce competition found in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Tournament. And thanks to his versatility, he has Team USA heading to the semifinals.
But there is more than one team competing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Tournament, And there are many Minnesota Timberwolves star players competing for international notoriety in the 2023 FIBA WC event. One such player is another Timberwolves star shooting guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker. While he is not crushing the competition, his contribution has just helped to put Team Canada into the semifinals as well:
Team Canada, just like Team USA, advanced.
NAW knows defense
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is due for a bit of attention as well. While he is not putting up 30+ points in any given game, he has been a steady source of offense for Team Canada. But where he shines is the defensive half of the basketball court, much like the impact of Anthony Edwards’s stifling defensive effort against Team Italy in a recent win.
Defense is a bit more subtle on a basketball court. Unlike offense, which is easily measurable by the number of points on the scoreboard, defense can only be measured indirectly, by the lack of points being scored. Like a shadow cast on a sunny day, the brighter the offense, the darker the defense.
NAW is measurably impactful in his defense. That’s why he was tapped to start in Round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs for the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite the fact that he had only competed in 23 games while on the Timberwolves roster. Timberwolves President Tim Connelly actually suggested inserting NAW into the Timberwolves starting lineup to Coach Finch. And thankfully, he was better than the brochure.
Like many Timberwolves players this summer, Nickeil Alexander-Walker will benefit greatly from the chance to compete on an international stage. But after this summer’s tournament is over, the Minnesota Timberwolves will benefit even better from his participation.