The expectations for Timberwolves' Anthony Edwards have changed. He must rise to meet them
That’s the hope, the idea, the promise. Edwards is still so young, skilled and talented. He expresses his will to get better in all areas of the game, consistency included.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Edwards brought down the house Monday night at Target Center. His 10 third-quarter points on 4-for-4 shooting ignited a previously sullen crowd. He delivered perhaps the sequence of the year for Minnesota, shutting down Miami Heat wing Max Strus at the doorstep.
On the Wolves’ ensuing possession, Edwards seized up the defense from the top of the key, as fan anticipation built as everyone awaited the inevitable — the 21-year-old guard was clearly going to launch a three-point shot.
“I just knew I was going to shoot the ball for sure no matter what,” Edwards said.
And he drained it, sending the arena into a euphoric state as Minnesota’s 13-point halftime deficit dwindled to one.
Those are the magical moments so many attribute to the one-time No. 1 draft pick and his infectious playing style and emotions. The bursts he delivers and subsequent interactions he has with the fans magnetize those in attendance and beyond toward Edwards.
“We always say he’s a home-run hitter, and he makes big plays, and it feeds everything around him,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “In general, he’s done a good job of finding his moments ever since he’s been here, ever since I’ve been here, finding his moments and putting his stamp on the game.”
Finch has said that so many times through his nearly two full seasons coaching the guard. It’s those characteristics that cause spectators’ eyes to twinkle as they imagine the possibilities of what levels Edwards can ascend to in his career. And the potential for everything still very much exists.
But Finch’s ensuing statement within the same response signaled another sentiment taking hold: It’s time for that potential to begin to play out in more ways than just the occasional scoring burst.
“You’ve gotta make all the little plays all the time, too,” FInch said Monday. “I thought there were a number of times tonight we could have put our body on the line for charges and we didn’t, stuff like that. But we’ll get better.”
That’s the hope, the idea, the promise. Edwards is still so young, skilled and talented. He expresses his will to get better in all areas of the game, consistency included. The moments after Monday’s win were no exception. Edwards was well aware of his mishaps on the defensive end, where he was lackadaisical off the ball, causing his opponents to go back door for easy rebounds or surge past him for offensive rebounds.
Those things can cost you games, and don’t set the proper tone for a team with sky-high expectations.
“It’s definitely gonna be on film. I ain’t tripping. I need to see it, so I can get better,” Edwards said. “I can’t help lead the team if I’m making the little mistakes (when) I’m trying to get on (teammates) for making the little mistakes, so I’ve got to be better myself.”
That’s a message being shared from the top down. Edwards will always be praised for the magic he provides. But that magic needs to appear on a consistent basis, as do all the simple things that can serve as the difference between winning and losing. That’s what defines the players who have established themselves as the league’s best.
A player expected to be the face and leader of a franchise is now being held to a high bar befitting of his stature.
Even the block of Strus that was featured in highlight reels wasn’t overly celebrated by the coach.
“Yeah, he’s certainly capable. He should do more of it, you know?” Finch said. “We’re capable of a lot of things, we’ve just gotta do more of it.”
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