The Minnesota Timberwolves have no shortage of youth or talent on their 2021-22 roster. In fact, entering the season Minnesota had the third-youngest roster in the NBA.
Every Thursday for the rest of the regular season Bally Sports North will feature one young player on the Wolves -- and occasionally with the G League Iowa Wolves -- to see who will rise to the challenge of bringing a consistent, winning team to Minnesota.
This is the 13th edition of the 2021-22 Young Wolves Tracker.
SPOTLIGHT ON …
Guard Anthony Edwards
Five words. Nineteen letters.
“I feel like Black Jesus.”
That’s what the Minnesota Timberwolves guard said after dropping 40 points on 14-for-27 shooting in the City of Roses on Tuesday night.
Edwards, the 20-year-old sensation amidst a superb second season in the NBA, flipped a switch in the fourth quarter, where he scored 14 of his 40, to bury the Portland Trail Blazers on their home court.
Afterwards, he was asked how it feels to be on the floor in those moments – game-defining moments.
That’s when Edwards’ colorful personality burst through and the rising star, intentionally or not, paid homage to the player with the highest per-game scoring average – Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan.
The “Black Jesus” nickname originated after Jordan put 44 on Eastern Conference rival Indiana and Pacers rookie shooting guard Reggie Miller during a preseason game in 1987.
Miller later recounted the story at an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He blamed teammate Chuck Person for trash-talking MJ and riling up the guy “who’s supposed to be able to walk on water.”
With his 44-point performance in tow, Miller said Jordan walked off the court and said,“Be careful, you never talk to Black Jesus like that.” And that’s how the supernatural reference was born.
Jordan averaged 37.1 points the season before, so his name carried more power than Ant’s name does 113 games into his career. Still, Edwards’ postgame one-liner instantly became an all-timer.
Edwards already has the second-most 40-point games in NBA history (4) before turning 21 years old. LeBron James, who had eight, is the only player with more such performances ahead of their 21st birthday. Luka Doncic, who turned 21 on Feb. 28 of last year, and Kevin Durant, also each had four.
Edwards can likely add to that total, as well, since he won't be 21 until Aug. 5.
On the season, Edwards – who has a serious shot at being named an All-Star, we might add – is averaging 22.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He’s shooting 44.6% from the floor and 37.6% from deep.
D’Angelo Russell, who was sitting to the left of Edwards at the podium Tuesday night, answered the silence that followed, candidly.
“Sit back for this one,” said Russell.
Everyone across the NBA is sitting back, admiring Edwards’ ascension to superstardom.
– Russell continues to offset subzero temperatures in Minnesota with a scorching hot January. He has scored 22+ points the past three games and is averaging 20.2 points and 7.6 assists in the month. The 25-year-old point guard is knocking down 50.3% of his field-goal attempts (70-for-139).
– Karl-Anthony Towns is amidst a strange scoring stretch. The Wolves center notched 40 points against Houston on Jan. 9, but has been held below 20 points in four different games this month. KAT’s 23 points per game in January is solid – of course, it’s hoisted by his huge outburst against the Rockets – but he’s hurting from outside the arc. Towns has clipped 35% of his 3-pointers, well short of his 41% season average.
– Jarred Vanderbilt continues to aggressively crash the glass. The fourth-year power forward has secured double-digit rebounds in six of 12 games played this month. In Tuesday night’s win over Portland, “V8” grabbed 13 boards (six offensive). He’s averaging 9.2 points and 10.8 rebounds since the New Year.