Tuesday morning, ESPN released their top 25 NBA players under the age of 25. Usually, Minnesota Timberwolves fans are used to their star players being overlooked. However, that is not the case for Anthony Edwards, as ESPN views him as the second-best rising star based on future potential.
Here is the description that ESPN reporter Tim Bontemps gave Edwards in the ranking:
After being the face of Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer, signing a max contract extension, and making steady statistical improvement across the board in his first three NBA seasons, Edwards will try to lead Minnesota out of the first round of the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history. The last thing left for Edwards to become an All-NBA guard? More consistent outside shooting. After hovering in the mid-30% range from behind the arc the past two years, that number has shot up dramatically in the early going this season.
Wolves fans should be thrilled, but not surprised, at Edwards’ high ranking. The only player above Ant on the list is Luka Dončić, as he remains in the number one spot. It’s hard to argue against that decision, as Dončić is averaging 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8.9 assists on 49.3% from the floor and 41.3% from three — leading the Dallas Mavericks to an unexpected 6-and-1 start this season.
Dončić has been averaging MVP-level numbers since his second year in the league, and the fact that he is still just 24 years old is mind-boggling. However, Edwards looks to be having a 2023-24 campaign in which he will finish in the MVP conversation.
I rest my case…— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 7, 2023
38 points on 15-of-25 from the floor, and willing his team to a victory in overtime against the best team in the league. That’s super star stuff, folks.
Sometimes I can’t believe he is on my favorite team. It’s Ant’s world, we are just living in it. https://t.co/tJ5cPFxfqU
Monday night against the then-undefeated Boston Celtics was Ant’s latest MVP-level installment so far this season, as he was the primary catalyst in the Timberwolves’ 114-109 win with a masterful 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists on 15-of-25 from the floor.
“He loves the moment,” Minnesota Head Coach Chris Finch said postgame. “Guys who like the moment are oftentimes few and far between. We’re lucky we have one on our team.”
After that performance, here is a look at Edwards’ season averages through the first six games:
- 28.2 points (fifth-best amongst guards)
- 6.7 rebounds (sixth-best amongst guards)
- 4.8 assists
- 52% from the floor
- 47.2% from deep
In the ranking, Bontemps cited becoming a more consistent outside shooter as “the last thing left for Edwards to become an All-NBA guard.”
Well, Ant has shot 50% or higher from beyond the arc in four out of Minnesota’s first six games, on the heels of 37% from deep on 7.3 attempts last season. That said, most of his offensive damage comes from him attacking the paint or scoring in isolation from the mid-range. However, being a reliable threat behind the three-point line is good enough. If AE5 can continue to play the way he did down the stretch on Monday night against the Boston Celtics, then taking over with his deep ball isn’t necessary.
Another notable aspect: Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels were both left off the ranking. ESPN titled the list as “the best young stars, ranked by future potential,” so it’s understandable if fans are upset with them not making it. Of the players mentioned, it is somewhat difficult to determine where Reid or McDaniels would slot in. A case could be made for any of Walker Kessler, Keegan Murray or Josh Giddey to be replaced, but it’s close.