For years, the NBA has been dominated by game-altering wings. There is a reason why LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are always playing into late May and early June.
Elite wings win.
For the majority of the franchise’s history, the Timberwolves haven’t had one. The one time they did — when Jimmy Butler stalked the halls of Target Center — they finally made the playoffs.
Otherwise, there has been no franchise player to plug in at arguably the NBA’s most important position. Maybe there is now.
After months of research and deliberation, the Timberwolves selected Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the first pick of the 2020 NBA draft.
He has the talent to be “that guy,” the one who could, one day, potentially usurp Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell as Minnesota’s best player. The Wolves don’t need him to do that right away. Edwards is, after all, only 19 years old.
“I’ve got two superstars alongside of me, so I’m not really going to feel too much pressure,” Edwards said. “But I’m going to do what I always do, bring what I bring to the table, and just impact the game other ways. They already can score the ball, so defensively I’m going to impact the game. Being the best guard rebounder on the team as I can possibly be, and just being locked in and doing whatever the coach needs me to do, to be honest.”
At such a young age, Edwards has already been through so much. He lost his mother when he was 14 years old, and his grandmother a couple of months later. Paintings of both women were located directly behind Edwards at his family’s draft gatherings. Their names were on the shirt he wore Wednesday night.
Edwards’ age, and perhaps immaturity, flashed in his freshman year at Georgia. He didn’t always give the best effort on the defensive end, where he sometimes lacked focus, and took ill-advised shots.
Edwards has acknowledged his defensive lapses, and said Wednesday his mission is to be locked in “the whole game” and prove himself on that end of the floor.
“Through practice, through workouts, through games, and just going forth in my career, just showing my defensive abilities are unmatched,” Edwards said.
But he also flashed his ability. A 6-foot-5 freight train, Edwards can get his own bucket on any possession, make any shot and do just about anything Minnesota will require in years to come. Dwyane Wade, a future hall of famer who also played under Georgia coach Tom Crean back in his days at Marquette, recently tweeted his belief that Edwards can be better than he was. That type of talent is there. It’s up to Minnesota to cultivate it.
There were many who assumed the Wolves would trade out of the No. 1 slot to acquire either a proven veteran or future assets. Minnesota was reportedly on the phones fielding calls to the very last minute. But, ultimately, Gersson Rosas and Co. kept the pick, and took a chance on a man who could potentially be a superstar.
Crean said recently that Edwards will require the proper guidance from the organization he enters. Minnesota has spoken at length about its culture and player development over the past year-plus. It’s time to put it to the test. It’s time for Edwards to go to work.
“It’s going to be fun, man,” Edwards said. “We’ve got a lot of athletes. We’ve got a lot of scorers. We’ve got a lot of ball players, man. There’s nothing more you can ask for.”
Wolves trade for Bolmaro
The Wolves used the No. 25 pick from Oklahoma City acquired in the Ricky Rubio trade and the No. 33 pick to move up to No. 23 overall and select Leandro Bolmaro, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard out of Argentina. Bolmaro played for FC Barcelona last season.