Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns took a strong stance in support of teammate Anthony Edwards' candidacy for the Rookie of the Year Award on Friday.
Towns explained the double-teams faced by Edwards, the first pick in the 2020 NBA draft, are everything voters should need to see to understand his impact, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic:
Edwards and the Charlotte Hornets' LaMelo Ball are the top two contenders for the league's top rookie honor.
The Wolves shooting guard has found another gear since the All-Star Game. He averaged 14.9 points on 37.1 percent shooting before the March 7 event and 23.7 points on 44.9 percent shooting since the break.
Here's how his season-long baseline numbers match up with Ball's heading into the final week of the regular season:
- Edwards: 19.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 SPG in 67 appearances
- Ball: 15.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.6 SPG in 46 appearances
A lot could depend on how much, if any, voters factor in Ball's five-week absence with a wrist injury, which is why his number of games is so much lower than Edwards'. That is probably less of a factor in the Rookie of the Year discussion than something like MVP, though.
Regardless of who wins the award, Edwards' play over the past couple of months has showcased why he was the top pick in last year's draft. He's a dynamic offensive talent with the potential to win a scoring title in his prime.
The 19-year-old Georgia native is a lackluster defender—ranking last in FiveThirtyEight's defensive Raptor rating among rookies—and his shooting efficiency must continue to improve, but his ability to create instant offense as a teenager in the NBA is impressive.
As Towns noted, that's forced opposing teams to start throwing double-teams in the rookie's direction to get the ball out of his hands. That's even more impressive when you consider he's playing alongside two other proven scorers in Towns and D'Angelo Russell, and opponents are still making that decision.
"I've always been a player that nobody gives excuses for," Edwards told Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated in April. "If I have a bad game, it's because I suck, I'm a bust, whatever. ... But it's fun at this point. I like having so much expected of me."
The University of Georgia product has five more games to state his Rookie of the Year case, starting Sunday against the Orlando Magic.