Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards finding his points within the flow of the offense
‘Making the right play,’ Edwards said, is working for teammates and the young guard himself
MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards was hardly noticeable during the first half of Friday’s victory over Memphis.
The third-year guard had 10 points on just seven shots and played more of a supporting role as D’Angelo Russell and Kyle Anderson took center stage in the game’s first 24 minutes.
Then came the third frame — the one Edwards has owned all month — when the all-star candidate truly sunk his teeth into the contest. The 21-year-old scored 13 points in the quarter, shooting 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
By night’s end, Edwards had recorded another stellar performance: 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. While that ended Edwards’ three-game streak of 30-plus point performances, it was equally as impressive as his three previous showings because Edwards got his production while letting the game come to him.
“He’s been doing a great job of that,” Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “I thought he did exactly what we needed him to do.”
Early in the game, that was attacking the rim, drawing a crowd and finding open teammates. Much of Russell’s early offense came off catch-and-shoots from the perimeter after Edwards broke down the defense.
Edwards waited patiently for his own shots but when the opportunities presented themselves, as they did in the third frame, he was ready to seize them. Friday marked his second-highest scoring game in a contest where he recorded a usage of less than 30% since November.
“Just keep making the right play. My teammates was playing great, they showed up big time for us. So, just keep making the right play,” Edwards said. “That’s just how the game of basketball is played. I just had to figure that out. Like, I can’t shoot all the shots, so just gotta get off it sometimes. I’m cool with it.”
That approach, Wolves guard Austin Rivers said, opens the floor up for everyone.
“He’s making the right play,” Rivers said. “(You) just want to encourage him to keep doing that and go from there.”
The confidence to do so stems from a trust Edwards is developing that he can make the right plays and the ball will still come his way, particularly in the biggest moments.
“The ball is always going to come back to you. We run a lot of plays for you. You don’t have to seek every play,” Finch said. “He’s done a much better job of trusting that process.”
Edwards said the game is becoming easier as he’s diagnosing the looks the defense gives him. When the opponent rotates, he knows it’s trying to get two players on him to not allow him to get off a shot. At that point, he’s just “picking ‘em apart” via feeds to his teammates.
“I’m gonna keep making the right play until they loosen up,” Edwards said. “And then when they loosen up, that’s when I’m gonna go.”
It can be an easy game when you allow it to be. Kyle Anderson said Edwards has found his groove.
“As a basketball player, sometimes you’re so worried about your game, and then you have a game where everything comes easy to you and you start to find your rhythm and then it’s fun from there on in. The work kicks in,” Anderson said. “I think the work is kicking in, his legs are getting under him, he’s comfortable with the space we’ve been giving him and the freedom he has. I think he’s just getting real comfortable.”
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