Forget The Gobert Trade; It’s Time To Focus On Anthony Edwards

After a frustrating season of the NBA world constantly revisiting what could end up as one of the worst trades in recent history, the Minnesota Timberwolves are at least one step closer in their process to determine how to reach that next step.

It starts and ends with Anthony Edwards.

The third-year guard isn’t just putting up numbers of near 25 points, six rebounds and inching closer to five nightly assists, he’s also displaying elements of a defensive motor that could turn him into a fully fledged superstar down the road.

Yes, those elements do come and go, and defensive consistency still remains just outside his grasp, but at 21 years old, we can afford to be generous with our patience. Besides, physical gifts aside, becoming a highly influential defender is often a result of experience, and the ability to adapt to new looks. With Edwards carrying the offensive burden that he is, it’s understandable that he isn’t picking up any All-Defense nods any time soon.

In the meantime, the newly minted All-Star is a wrecking ball of size, athleticism, and energy. His 6’4 frame carries an impressive 225 pounds, and he’s using every bit of that strength to absorb contact from defenders, when he challenges them at the rim.

Edwards is converting a career-high 66.5% of his shots near the rim, a trend that has only improved year-after-year since making the league. The volume matters too, as shots within three feet of the basket makes up 30.2% of his offense. Coming into the league in 2020, the most common criticism against Edwards was his reliance upon long contested jumpers, and not enough focus on getting to the basket.

In the NBA, that has changed, and he’s finding ways to improve his efficiency when going up against taller defenders. He’s can be patient, slowing down the play when he sees his immediate defender back peddling too quickly on a fast break, catching him off-guard, or he’ll speed up the play when he sees a defender try to pick up Edwards from behind the three-point line, eviscerating them with quick power dribbles and blow-bys.

Edwards is the caliber of player you built around, and it’s why the Rudy Gobert trade was a problem. There’s no use in rehashing the issues with Gobert, but it is crucial to discuss how the Wolves regroup and find a way to at least replenish their empty cupboard of draft picks and overall flexibility.

All that leads to one name being moved, and likely soon. Karl-Anthony Towns.

There’s simply no point in pivoting off Gobert and getting back 10 cents on the dollar. Gobert, despite the resumé, simply does not possess the same trade value as what the Wolves gave up. Not even remotely close.

Towns, however, could fetch a package that’s similar to the return Utah received for Gobert, essentially seeing the Wolves indirectly swap Towns for Gobert, while keeping around essential assets to properly build around Edwards.

The Wolves need to be mindful of a few things, however. Playing an athletic off-guard, who needs to attack the rim relentlessly to further open up his game, next to Gobert is a plan that has gone wrong before. Donovan Mitchell, a player strikingly similar in attack pattern as Edwards did not manage to find success with the Frenchman, as the latter occupied the paint to the extent that he did.

It would thus behoove the Wolves to prioritize positional fluidity and shooting, when they get down to actually building the roster around Edwards. His trajectory as a passer is sound enough to build elite spacing around him, and expect him to utilize it.

Whatever the Wolves end up doing, everything needs to be with Edwards in mind.

Unless noted otherwise, all stats via, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball-Reference. All salary information via Spotrac. All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

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