Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards continues to adapt and adjust
Frustration and resignation are short-lived emotions for the guard
Anthony Edwards sounded like a player whose mentality was going in the wrong direction after Minnesota’s disappointing home loss versus Charlotte last month.
The 21-year-old’s postgame comments veered from Minnesota simply having to wait for Karl-Anthony Towns to come back to get back on track to saying he needed to practice shooting over two people in response to the added attention he was receiving from defenses.
Edwards then delivered one of his most lifeless performances in Minnesota’s ensuing contest — a close road loss to the Golden State Warriors.
It had the look of an alarming mid-season trajectory for a franchise’s star player. Yet there is never a concern such a mindset will survive within the guard. Edwards responded to that Warriors’ showing with three games of constant progression in which he’s been locked in defensively and adapted to opposing defenses.
He’s finding different ways to impact games in a positive way. The result: three Timberwolves’ victories.
That’s who the guard is. He showed as much at the beginning of last season, when he grew frustrated that his rim attacks weren’t leading to foul calls and suggested that may deter him from going to the paint as often. Soon after, Edwards said by making those comments, he “sounded like a loser.” He then proceeded to again live at the rack.
Frustration and resignation are short-lived emotions for the guard.
Edwards was clearly discombobulated initially by another leap in opposing defensive attention after D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Lakers. His initial response was seemingly to try to put everything on his shoulders offensively. That led to bad shots and worse turnovers.
Edwards has since corrected course. He’s again using his gravity that attracts double teams to create for others. That resulted in a 138-point offensive explosion for the Wolves in Sacramento in which Edwards tallied eight assists while shooting 50% from the floor.
“Anthony did a really good job of whether they put two on him and moving it early or when they sent him into a crowd, he took it with the full intention of making the right play with the kick out,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “I thought it was his best game in terms of doing that.”
It demonstrated another step in Edwards’ maturation. He previously decoded the need to get off the ball quickly when teams blitzed him with a pair of defenders on the perimeter.
Now he realized he can drive hard to generate easy looks not for himself, but his teammates. So instead of throwing his body into the walls of defenders built specifically to stop him, Edwards is motoring in simply to collapse those defenses and kick out to open shooters.
“I think it was helped by just the intent,” Finch said. “(Like), ‘I know I’m going to go there and I know what I’m going to do at the end of it.’ Having a plan. I think that’s part of his growth — having a plan to all this against certain defenses.”
It’s natural for young players to have an adjustment period whenever something new is thrown at them. What’s encouraging for Minnesota is how quickly Edwards is proving he can adapt. That’s likely a product of his willingness to listen and learn when coaches or veteran teammates explain what can be done differently.
“He’s done a great job of, honestly, just being coachable in those moments. He understands he’s got a lot of room to grow in certain areas and he’s watching film, he’s talking to coach, he’s talking to me,” Wolves guard Mike Conley said. “And just in a short period of time I’ve been here, there’s been a couple occasions where, early on, he’s holding the ball a little too long or not making the read quick enough or taking the harder pass instead of the easier pass. Then you fast forward to this last road trip, he’s making the simple play, drawing three defenders and getting guys wide-open shots.”
Which makes Minnesota all the more difficult to guard.
“He can be so deadly when he continues to do that, and I think us winning in the fashion that we did is going to make it even better for us,” Conley said. “Understanding that he can trust us all, we trust him and continue to develop his game.”
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