Another day, another game going down by at least 25. This trend is far from encouraging for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have also gone ten straight games where they have fallen behind by at least 15 points.
Typically, these massive deficits are the result of nauseatingly poor defense. Tonight, however, didn’t feel that way as the Grizzlies made 54.3 percent of their threes (excluding the garbage time attempts in the final four minutes). There were absolutely defensive lapses, and Jaden McDaniels getting four early fouls didn’t help. Still, there were also some encouraging trends as the Timberwolves made a push before getting completely blown out. Anthony Edwards was active off-ball by causing deflections and altering shots. We even saw some fun minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid together. Unfortunately, when Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen, and De’Anthony Melton combine for 11-16 from three, the odds of winning aren’t great.
ROOKIE OF THE MONTH. pic.twitter.com/a1jkbq3tbJ— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 3, 2021
At this point of the season (honestly more like a month or two ago), losing is expected, so why dwell on the bad? Instead, let’s talk about Edwards because we got yet another tantalizing taste of the superstar this guy could become.
Prepare for a twist because I want to talk about Edwards’ defense in a positive light. Stunned? Yea, I am too. Edwards didn’t have a perfect defensive game, but he is finally using his athleticism to cause chaos. He was active off-ball, caused deflections, forced turnovers, and altered shots. These plays are obviously beneficial as defensive stops, but Edwards frequently turns his defensive playmaking into easy scores going the other way. This game was Edwards’ 17th straight in which he had a steal. SEVENTEEN! For a rookie who has essentially sucked defensively, this is a significant pivot.
I’m likely never going to expect Anthony Edwards to be a defensive stopper because, well, it probably won’t ever happen. To stress over it and believe that it is a realistic outcome just seems like it will cause more trouble than it’s worth. However, I do want Edwards to continue this hot streak of being a defensive playmaker. I want him jumping passing lanes and taking it the other way for a monster dunk. He should be making those weakside rotations and swatting guy’s shots.
Speaking of playmaking, we saw some spectacular flashes from Edwards in that realm on offense. Edwards tied his career-high in assists with six. He also acted as the primary initiator for numerous possessions. This type of experience is invaluable to Edwards’ growth because as the season goes on, he will likely have the ball more and more. Sure, there were some head-scratching passes. But overall, Edwards’ ability to patiently snake into the lane off a pick, read the defense and make a quality decision on a shot or pass was encouraging for the type of ball-handler he will grow into.
Losing sucks. It will always suck. While we should always root for and want wins, at this point, it is unhealthy to dwell on the pursuit of wins. Instead, try to ignore the score the next game or two that you watch. I’m not saying zone out and barely watch—quite the opposite. Watch how Jaden McDaniels moves his feet on the perimeter and rotates from the weakside. Watch how Edwards has improved his pick-and-roll navigation and keeps his defender on his back after dribbling off the screen. Watch how Towns reads the floor and manipulates the defense as he tries to find an open shooter or cutter out of his post-up. There is plenty to be frustrated with and downtrodden about, but there is also a lot to be excited about in the future.