With world-class athleticism and highlight-reel dunks, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards showed his talent and NBA potential from his first game on.
But one skillset has improved throughout the season and is making “Ant” look like not only the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year, but also a future superstar: His 3-point shot.
It wasn’t there at the start of the season.
The former No. 1 overall pick nailed 1 of 5 attempts from deep in his NBA debut, and he shot 26.7% from the perimeter over his first 11 contests, which included a gloomy 1-for-9 effort on Dec. 27.
In 31 games under head coach Ryan Saunders at the start of the year, Edwards logged 14.3 points while shooting 31.3% from deep on 5.8 attempts per game.
Under the tutelage of Chris Finch, Edwards has upped his numbers in just about every category, but especially from 3-point range. In the 37 contests coached by Finch, the Georgia product is putting up 8.3 3-point shots per game and draining them at a 33.4% clip.
Whether it’s Finch’s coaching, Edwards’ improved form or a combination of both, the rookie has been drastically better as a pure shooter. Before Feb. 22, when Saunders was relieved of his coaching duties, Edwards was shooting 4.8 “open” 3-pointers -- determined by shots taken with the nearest defender standing 4-6 feet away – per game and making 28.4% of them. With Finch at the helm, Edwards is seeing 4.8 open looks from deep per game at nailing them at a much-improved 37.9% clip.
The Wolves rookie standout made several pieces of history May 5 when he went off for 42 points on 17-of-22 shooting while adding seven assists and six rebounds in a loss to Memphis.
Edwards made a career-high eight 3-pointers that night, which tied Kevin Love (Dec. 13, 2013) and Stephon Marbury (Dec. 23, 1997) for the Wolves’ single-game record.
It also made him the first 19-year-old in NBA annals to drop 40+ points and nail 5+ 3-pointers in a game, and just the second teenager to notch multiple games of 40+ points (his other 42-point game was on March 18). The other player? LeBron James.
At 19 years and 273 days old, Edwards became the youngest player to reach 150 career 3-point makes in NBA history. Luka Doncic previously held the teenage 3-pointer record with 141.
But wait, there’s more.
Entering Tuesday’s tilt against Detroit, Edwards has 159 3-pointers to his name. That ranks second all-time in single-season Timberwolves history, trailing only Kevin Love in 2013-14 with 190. Edwards, who is averaging 2.3 3-pointers per game on the season and 2.8 since the All-Star break, likely won’t catch Love’s record over the Wolves’ last four games of the shortened 2020-21 campaign.
But if it was a typical 82-game season, Edwards would have a chance. He’d have to average 2.2 makes per game over the final what-would-be 14 matchups of the season, which is more than doable for the rookie.
Additionally, and this might sound crazy, but Edwards will be included on the top-10 list of the Wolves’ all-time career 3-point shooters by as soon as next season.
Rashad McCants, the former first-round pick who played for Minnesota for four campaigns (2005-09), ranks 10th in franchise history with 267 3-point swishes. If Edwards can continue his post-All-Star break pace of 2.8 3-pointers per contest, he’d crack the franchise’s top 10 in 39 games.
The NBA has a real problem on its hands.