Is Anthony Edwards a Future Superstar or a Glorified Role Player?

Mar 11, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over Mississippi Rebels guard Breein Tyree (4) during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If you have been following sports for a long time, you might be familiar with Jadeveon Clowney’s senior year in high school.

Clowney was regarded as the number one prospect at the time because of how much more athletic he was than the competition. I mean, look at this and see for yourself.

In some ways, Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards is the same way. While not to the same extent, there are times when you look at Edwards on the court and mumble “he doesn’t belong.”

The 6-foot-5 wing has been the talk of collegiate basketball this season because of how talented he is as a player.

Likely the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, just how good is this athletic freak?

Who is Anthony Edwards?

While he is a consensus top-three prospect this year, there’s not much hype around Edwards. In large part, this has to do with fellow prospects LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman. These two household names, because of their high school careers, especially Ball.

Edwards was ranked fourth in the ESPN 100 recruiting database and he would have likely ranked fifth if Ball didn’t play professionally in Lithuania.

The smooth, yet explosive athlete is a native of Atlanta, Ga. and was always in the shadows of his high school competition. Ball, Wiseman, and even Cole Anthony of North Carolina were considered better prospects, but that didn’t stop Edwards from rising through the ranks.

It was the 2019 Jordan Brand Classic where the Georgia native showed how promising he is, scoring an easy 21 points against the top high school players of the country. While Wiseman shared the MVP trophy with Anthony, Edwards was the one that got scouts and fans talking after the game.

At 18 years of age, Edwards is in a position to succeed. At this point, he is guaranteed to hear his name selected in the first three picks in the upcoming draft. It’s a matter of which teams land in the top three and in what order they select.

While this draft is relatively weak compared to the past years, Edwards is considered by many a good enough prospect for this class to be passable in terms of talent.

Strengths

Edwards is one of the best athletes in the nation, including the NBA. There is just something about the way he runs the floor that captivates the imagination of the fans. In some way, you could argue that there have been better athletes than him in the last couple of years: Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, and Zion Williamson, but those guys didn’t possess the grace and fluidity of Edwards when they ran the floor.

And, in terms of raw explosiveness, there is an argument to be made that Edwards is as good, if not better than, Williamson. Scouts are raving about his raw talent and his explosive athletic abilities to match.

For the most part, athletic abilities aren’t enough to warrant a No. 1 overall pick. Luckily for Edwards, his skill on both ends of the floor matches his physical gift.

A good offensive weapon and an even better perimeter defender, Edwards is a two-way player. Averaging 19.1 points-per-game, along with 1.3 steals in 32 outings, Edwards was a menace in the passing lane, which led to him showcasing his ability to run the floor.

The clip below shows his defensive awareness.

As far as scoring goes, there is no one better than Edwards at the collegiate level. An excellent ball-handler and one of the strongest players in the nation, the Georgia freshman gets to the rim at will. His physical strength allows him to finish through contact as well as knock smaller guards around in the post.

While his shooting has been suspect at times, Edwards has shown he is more than capable of making threes from the NBA range, as he attempted 7.7 a game.

Weaknesses

At this point, you’re probably thinking of how perfect Edwards is as a prospect. I mean, he is a remarkable athlete and a skilled basketball player. However, there are gaps in his game that needs to be fixed if he wants to make a splash in the NBA.

First, Edwards is by no means a great shooter. In fact, he might not even pass as a good shooter.

Yes, he averages 7.7 attempts from beyond the arc. But he only made 2.3 per game, which is an abysmal 29.4 percent. His free throw percentage is also not ideal for a two-guard as he only shot 77.2 percent from the charity stripe. Lastly, his field goal percentage is awfully low considering how good he is as a scorer (40.2 percent).

These numbers are comparable to last year’s third overall pick RJ Barrett, and look at how much he is struggling his first year in the NBA.

Scoring isn’t the only factor to consider when measuring how good a player is on offense. Passing, ball handling, and spacing are all major parts when analyzing a player.

For Edwards, he has shown his ability to kick out of double times to find open shooters but there have also been head-scratching decisions. Averaging only 2.8 assists, Edwards is by no means a good passer.

And, if you add in his 2.7 turnovers, you could picture how bad he is at setting up his teammates.

Conclusion

It really depends on what team Edwards ends up playing for next season.

The talent is definitely there, but he needs a good point guard and an even better coach to keep him on a leash to maximize his potential. If the season ended today, the bottom three teams are the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If we were to be asked, the Warriors are perfect for Edwards; learning under Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, while being coached by Steve Kerr.

Edwards is a tricky prospect to try and rate as his absolute ceiling is Dwyane Wade, with whom he shared similar athleticism at 18. Heck, Edwards might be a better athlete than 18-year-old Wade.

At the same time, there is a chance he ends up like Dion Waiters –– once a promising young player but has struggled at times in the NBA because of a dependence on jump shots.

In reality, a good comparison for him would be Victor Oladipo: an All-Star who has shown to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

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