Eyeing a New Wolf

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA Draft Lottery which can only raise one question..."Who do they pick now?" In one of the most critiqued NBA Draft Classes in recent memory, the next couple of months will become a vicious cycle of heated debates around who deserves the nod as the number one overall selection. If you're just starting to get acquainted with this years Draft Stock, allow us to catch you up to speed. This class has received some questionable street cred as of late, which has scared the average fan to just how good these prospects can be. This is NOT a weak class by any means necessary, as the overall depth is actually quite impressive. So what's the issue with the top of the draft? I thought you'd never ask. 

As of now, the top of our Draft Board features three prospects that have been popular in draft circles throughout the year. LaMelo Ball, formerly of the Illawara Hawks of the NBL in Australia, finds himself as the 2nd ranked prospect currently on our board. A 6'7" guard with elite playmaking ability and a phenomenal feel for the game, there's no doubt that Ball will have plenty of teams intrigued with his ability as a potential franchise-altering point guard. The 3rd ranked prospect on our board is former Memphis big man James Wiseman, a freakish 7-footer with the ability to run the floor like a deer and impact both sides of the ball with his elite combination of athleticism and strength. But that leaves one prospect left, and that prospect is our man of the hour ladies and gentlemen.

Minnesota Timberwolves fans, allow me to introduce you to Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards. You should pay attention closely, because I'm going to tell you why Anthony Edwards is going to be wearing a T'Wolves jersey next season. Now, just like most of the prospect towards the top of this draft, Edwards has his fair share of "knocks" when it comes to his projection as a NBA prospect. But we will get to those later, right now...let's talk about what makes Edwards so special. 

INTRODUCING ANTHONY EDWARDS

Edwards is a bull in a china shop. Standing at 6'5" with a body-builders frame...Edwards is at his best when he's in transition or has a head of steam towards the basket. When he gets downhill, he attacks the rim with incredibly bad intentions. If that wasn't enticing enough, Anthony has an underrated and eye-opening ability to shift directions in a hurry. He can be going full speed and shift directions without losing any top end speed.

"Ant-man" doesn't just attack the lane, he glides through the defense whenever he wants. You consistently have to remind yourself that he's 6'5" and 230+ pounds of muscle. The athleticism and explosiveness jump out in a hurry, leaving you convinced he's ready to step in and "hang" with some of the elite wings in the NBA. One of the most fascinating aspects, when it comes to his ability to attack the lane, is his body control once he takes flight. Edwards does a great job of adjusting his shot and possesses an arsenal of acrobatic finishes, routinely preventing shot blockers from having a chance to meet him at the rim. 

While some might consider Edwards not a finished product, when comparing him to previous potential number one overall selections, his handles are anything but ordinary. Edwards can fill it up offensively, there's no doubt about that. But Edwards still has so much potential to grow in a variety of levels on both sides of the ball. That's why he's the number one ranked player on our big board. Here you get an example of just how agile Edwards can be with the ball in his hands. Anthony has Immanuel Quickley on him here, a lengthy wing with good athleticism. While this play might look ordinary to some, I'm looking at the lower body and ability of Edwards to get in and out of his moves with explosion. 

This is a part of the potential marriage between the Timberwolves and Edwards that could be a beautiful thing. Did you know that the Minnesota Timberwolves ranked 8th in the NBA last year when it came to offensive possessions involving cuts? Shout out to Synergy for making me sound like an absolute nerd right there. Edwards while at Georgia ranked in the 72nd percentile in the same category (which ranks as Very Good). Notice the ability for Anthony to explode out of his cut. Defender didn't know what hit him, and we he figured it out...Edwards was looking down at the rim. 

The quick step and explosiveness that Edwards has at his disposal is enough to make NBA organizations foam at the mouth. When Anthony has an angle and he hits the turbo button, it's hard for anyone to keep up with his quickness. The 19-year-old has drawn some criticism from scouts and evaluators because of his shot selection, often falling in love with the three ball. But on the other side of the table is plays like this one above. Edwards is still young, and if he can understand that he can become a machine around the rim...his potential takes a different, and more promising, path early on in his career. 

A nice sequence here from Anthony Edwards on both sides of the floor. The 19-year-old does a great job of boxing out here and putting himself in position to get this defensive rebound. Notice the vertical explosiveness on display here as Anthony goes up to get the board at it's highest point. From there, we see the freshman guard do a great job of filling his lane with pace and once he receives the pass at the top of the key, he get's downhill in a hurry. Edwards is shifty and has the raw talent to be a dynamic threat when he gets momentum going in the key. 

HOW DOES EDWARDS FIT MINNESOTA

When you take a look at the overall fit when it comes to the Timberwolves projected roster next year, it couldn't look like a better fit on paper. Edwards, who is still a bit raw in terms of overall polish on both sides of the ball, could slide into the Timberwolves as a potential number 3 option early on his career. D'Angelo Russell was acquired during a trade deadline deal last year, and will be expected to carry the load offensively out of the backcourt. Karl Anthony-Towns is still one of the best big men in the NBA and will be a welcoming presence for a player like Edwards. While the verdict is still out on last years lottery selection Jarrett Culver, I'm still a big believer in his potential to turn into a solid NBA player moving forward. Culver was expected to be a bit of a project as a rookie, and he showed plenty of flashes throughout his first year. A combination of Culver and Anthony Edwards as two raw but extremely athletic wings could be a thrilling development for the Timberwolves. Both of those two also have the potential to turn into a vicious combination of defensive potential as well thanks to their combination of lateral quickness and length. 

As it stands now, the T'Wolves are expected to have a couple of notable decisions this offseason, and some of those decisions could be worth monitoring. The most notable one is Malik Beasley, who the Timberwolves acquired during a trade deadline deal with the Denver Nuggets. Beasley showed some nice flashes with the Timberwolves, and although he's set to become a restricted free agent, the Wolves have said they want to figure out a longterm deal with Beasley moving forward. Now does this mean that the Wolves would pass on a talent like Edwards because they have Beasley potentially waiting in line? I wouldn't think so. If anything, it makes Edwards a more enticing option to have some immediate depth.

Let's play devils advocate here and project that the Timberwolves go ahead and extend Beasley as well as drafting Anthony Edwards number one overall. Remember that the Timberwolves also will be selecting 17th in this years draft. Minnesota could be looking at a young core involving D'Angelo Russell, Edwards, Josh Okogie, Malik Beasley, Karl Anthony-Towns and Naz Reid moving forward. Not to mention a number of enticing rotational pieces that have shown the ability to contribute such as Jordan McLaughlin and Juan Hernangomez (RFA). 

When you take a deeper dive at the numbers, you'll notice there's a number of categories in which Edwards should be a potential welcomed addition for the Timberwolves moving forward. Edwards excels in Transition, ranking in the 81st percentile while at Georgia, a category in which the T'Wolves ranked 26th in the league last year. Edwards also ranked in the 86th percentile when it came to Spot Up Defense, while the T'Wolves finished 17th in the league. There's a number of categories you can dive into in which this potential match makes all of the sense in the world. 

In a Draft in which there's no certainty towards the top of the draft, Anthony Edwards to the Minnesota Timberwolves should be the first selection on Draft Day. With the duo of D'Angelo Russell and Karl Anthony-Towns already in place, Edwards could transition smoothly to the NBA level without the need to become a primary scoring option. If Edwards can fine tune his shot selection, and become a more consistent weapon on the defensive side of the ball...this could be a slam dunk for the T'Wolves organization.