Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards looking for consistency. It starts with a film session
Minnesota's 3rd-year guard said he wants to 'find a way to just be locked in'
MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards controlled all facets of the game Tuesday in Orlando. He scored 19 points against the Magic in an ultra-aggressive first quarter, before starting to get his teammates involved.
For the night, he finished with an efficient 35 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists. And yet what stood out most for the 21-year-old guard was his defensive performance. Not only was Edwards good on the ball, but his off-ball defense was intentional. Everything Edwards did had a purpose. He was, as he put it “locked in.”
“Because I’m tired of being on film off the ball,” Edwards explained. “Off the ball, I’m always on film giving up rebounds and sometimes losing my man and he go on the opposite side of the floor.”
So on Wednesday, Edwards was on a mission to not be featured negatively in the following day’s film session. Every time a shot went up, he would check to make sure his man wasn’t crashing before going himself to help on the glass. He was in the proper defensive gaps. He was everything the Timberwolves hope he can eventually be on a nightly basis.
That’s the next step in his progression. It’s not unusual for Edwards to have an evening where he establishes himself as the best player on the floor. It’s those games where the minds of Timberwolves fans wander off to a world where the inconsistent young star ascends to the height of the game’s other premier players, who put forth such efforts on a nightly basis.
It hasn’t yet taken hold, as those explosions can often be offset by periods of lax play.
Edwards continues his search for the right formula in his pursuit of consistency.
“I’m still figuring it out, man. Year three for me. I should be a little better as far as trying to be more consistent game by game,” Edwards said. “I’m still figuring out routines, habits, trying to find ways to continue to dominate every night, and I think the more film I watch, the better I’m getting with it.”
He has a helpful support system. His college coach, Tom Crean, as well as his trainer are texting him scouting reports the night before every game, detailing what the opposing defense will throw his way and what he must do to slow down the player he’ll be tasked with guarding.
Performances like Wednesday show he’s taking that to heart. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch even noted the guard is the one who’s helped spark Minnesota’s offensive off-ball movement. Edwards was the beneficiary of such actions in Orlando, getting an easy bucket off a curl cut.
“I felt like if I do it, everybody else is going to do it, because I’m the one that’s always trying to get the ball,” Edwards said. “So, I feel like if everybody see my cutting, they gonna start cutting. Finchy told me and I just tried to go out there and do it.”
When he does those little things, Edwards becomes nearly unstoppable. The same is true of the Timberwolves. Now how can Edwards replicate that level of play again and again and again?
Finch said that comes down to approach and mindset.
“How do you recover quickly? How do you restock the energy needed? Certainly it’s not a skillset,” Finch said. “It’s also recognizing that every game is a little bit different, and doing the things that are necessary in that game, but also playing to your strengths and also imposing yourself onto the game, too.”
Edwards noted that usually when he has a bad game, he’ll follow it up with one of those “locked in” performances. But he has to find it within himself to not become too comfortable with success, and instead build upon and stack his strong performances.
“I got to find a way to just be locked in, like every game, at 7 o’clock, it’s time to lock in. No matter what’s going on throughout the day, at 7 o’clock I got to find a way to be the same way I was (Wednesday),” Edwards said. “For sure, I’m gonna try to come out with Philly (on Saturday) and try to be the same way. I’m working on it.”
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