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Is Anthony Edwards making a case for the Rookie of the Year award? | 2020-21 NBA season

Anthony Edwards sinks floater against Brooklyn
Anthony Edwards sinks floater against Brooklyn
ANALYST
Modified 08 Apr 2021
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Although it looked set in stone that LaMelo Ball would win Rookie of the Year this season, the No.1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Anthony Edwards, is making a strong case that says otherwise.

The 19-year-old has played in every one of the Minnesota Timberwolves' games this season and ranks fourth among his teammates for points per matchup, despite not starting in 17 of those games. Since the All-Star break, Minnesota have vastly improved their form, going 6-10 throughout the past month. With LaMelo Ball's injury and the Timberwolves' improvements, Anthony Edwards' name has gained stock in the Rookie of the Year debate.

This article will weigh in on whether Edwards is worthy of the award and how he can be the future of the Timberwolves franchise.

Why Anthony Edwards is worthy of Rookie of the Year and how he can help the Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards soars in for easy lay-up
Anthony Edwards soars in for easy lay-up

After a shaky start to his NBA career, Anthony Edwards has found his feet and looks like the dominant playmaker and rim-attacker the Minnesota Timberwolves sought with their top pick.

Since the midseason break, Edwards has burst out of the league's hiatus to produce staggering numbers few expected. In the last 16 games, the shooting guard has averaged 24.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals. No Timberwolves player put up more shots per game in that time than the rookie, connecting with over 44% of efforts and he got to the line more than any other regular starter apart from Towns.

Having a look at his draft class also helps Anthony Edwards' stats jump off the page. He leads all Rookie of the Year contenders in points per matchup and is possibly the most-trusted of the league's freshmen as he takes more field goals and 3-point efforts than anybody else.

While his shooting accuracy does not make for great reading compared to others up for Rookie of the Year, it is his energy and the way he has adapted to the league that makes him worthy of winning the award.

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Edwards is fearless in the lane and knows his opponents as if he is a seasoned veteran. What he will bring to the Minnesota Timberwolves offense going forward is the ability to beat his man and earn free-throws.

In fact, no other rookie who has played more than 30 games this season earns more trips to the line than Anthony Edwards, while almost a third of his field-goal attempts come between 0-3 feet of the basket. Once he gets to the line, Edwards makes 78% of shots, which ranks 5th among rookies for those that take more than 1.5 free-throws per game.

What's more, Anthony Edwards is possibly the most fun Rookie of the Year candidate to watch. He is quickly building a plethora of highlights and has the explosive step to burn his marker and throw down a monstrous dunk.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have been searching for a number of seasons as to how they can compete in the West again. Covid protocols, countless injuries and a new head coach have meant they have had yet another disappointing campaign. With the worst record in the NBA, the T-Wolves could see a major overhaul of players this offseason and will be looking at who can be their leader going forward.

Anthony Edwards may just be the answer. Judging by his stats this season, he has what it takes to drive the T-Wolves to success and attract other talent to the franchise along the way.

The likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young have done so recently, therefore why not Edwards too. He has proven his confidence in abundance and still being a teenager, has huge upside potential.

The Rookie of the Year debate will likely come down to the wire. Since Anthony Edwards is on one of the worst sides in the league and does not have anything like the win shares LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton are contributing, he may still miss out on the trophy.

However, he is the sort of player NBA fans and media love. His athleticism and power makes him extremely fun to watch and he will no doubt be the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise for years to come. Even if Anthony Edwards doesn't win Rookie of the Year, his development could make him one of the most feared guards in the league.

Published 08 Apr 2021, 22:19 IST
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