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4 NBA Scouts Reassess 2020 No. 1 Pick Anthony Edwards' Future

A. Sherrod BlakelyContributor IMay 12, 2021

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) pushes the ball up the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

When it comes to Anthony Edwards, the only thing most folks want to talk about regarding his play this season is The Dunk.

Yes, that dunk.

It's the one in which Edwards dribbled along the baseline and rose up to deliver the dunk of the year, as Toronto's Yuta Watanabe, clearly in the wrong air space at the wrong time, soon found himself sprawled down on the Target Center floor.

Edwards, with a not-so-sly grin, soon looked up to the jumbotron for the replay, seemingly wondering the same thing most of us who saw the dunk were thinking.

Did that really happen?

It became on many levels a reminder of how dynamic Edwards was as a player, and why the Minnesota Timberwolves made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft ahead of James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball, who were taken with the No. 2 and 3 picks by Golden State and Charlotte, respectively.

This season, Edwards is averaging 18.9 points—tops among all rookies—along with 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He has done this while appearing in 68 games, which also leads all rookies.  

Edwards began the season as a reserve, but he soon played his way into a starting job, which he has shown no signs of relinquishing. But as several NBA scouts pointed out, viewing Edwards as merely an above-the-rim dunker doesn't do nearly enough justice to the upside and potential he has shown in his rookie season.

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"He can jump out of the gym; we all know that," said an Eastern Conference scout. "But what really separates him from a lot of athletic young guys is his physicality. He really does come at you like a linebacker, unafraid to deliver a hit which is not the norm when you're talking about an NBA guard."

Craig Lassig/Associated Press

Four scouts were asked to rate Edwards' ceiling in one of four categories: 

  • Full-time starter

  • Occasional All-Star

  • Perennial All-Star

  • Future Hall of Famer

One scout deemed the 6'5" Edwards a full-time starter, which is what he is now, while the other three felt he would be an occasional All-Star.

"He has shown the potential we all saw in him being able to score at a high level here," said the scout who rated him as a full-time starter. "But he's out West, which is loaded with guys who can score and can win games. That's going to hurt him more than anything else when it comes to being seen as one of the best. He can get numbers, but can he win? I don't think it'll happen for him there."

Meanwhile, the other three scouts each gave a different take on why they felt Edwards would be named to multiple All-Star teams during his career.

"As much as that stuff is about your play, personality comes into the equation, too," said the first scout who rated him as an occasional All-Star. "He has a great personality that comes across as really likable. That, plus his talent, will take him far."  

Thomas Shea/Associated Press

The second scout who categorized him as an occasional All-Star believes Edwards' play will be what gets him on the All-Star team multiple times.

"I think sometimes we forget that the kid is just that, a kid," the second scout said. "He's going to get better the more he plays, the more he understands what he can do and what he can't get away with in the NBA. There's a reason why he was taken with the No. 1 pick."

The third scout who likened him to being an occasional All-Star pointed to Edward's defensive potential being higher than most give him credit for.

"Look at his strength, length, and leaping ability; he can be really great if he wants to, at that end of the floor," said the third scout. "But it can't just be the highlight stuff, which he's good at. He has to want to do it every possession which if you watch him now, isn't the case."

Indeed, Edwards has shown he can be an impact defender even when he's playing defense from behind.

But consistency, as is the case with most young players, is what scouts believe will ultimately determine Edwards' ceiling for growth into being known more as a top-tier player in the NBA, or just another highlight-reel dunker.

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