Timberwolves

Edwards Emerging as ROY Frontrunner

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Anthony Edwards‘ struggles to start his rookie season were at the forefront of the headlines.

These questions of his efficiency and defense were viable, but Edwards has steadily improved throughout the season. With Chris Finch at the helm, the T-Wolves have a record of 7-18. In those 25 games, Edwards is averaging 23.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals while shooting 42% from the field, 32% from the three-point line and 78% from the charity stripe. While the shooting numbers leave a lot to desire, Edwards’ numbers under Finch have been a vast improvement versus his first 31 games.

Through Edwards’ first 31 games he averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.7 steals while shooting 38% from the field, 31% from the three-point line and 80% from the free-throw line all in 28 minutes a game. While under Finch, Edwards has played 35 minutes a game, he has also started all 20 games compared to only starting 14 out of his first 31 games.

This greater opportunity has accelerated his development, as he has shown the ability to create with the ball in his hands. Although Ant’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.2, he has shown the desire to try to make the right play. He’ll need to clean up his turnovers but the important thing to remember is that he is only 19 years old.

The ROY race is wide open

With LaMelo Ball suffering a fractured wrist, the path to Rookie of the Year became wide open. Tyrese Haliburton has taken the league by storm with his efficient shooting and defensive instincts. On the season Haliburton is averaging 12.8 points (48% FG, 41% 3PT, 84% FT), 3.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.

The only figure Edwards has Haliburton beat on is his points per game. Based on these numbers alone, Haliburton seems to be the leader to win Rookie of the Year. However, there is a reason Edwards is the favorite to win the award.

How Edwards can win ROY

What Edwards has on his side is opportunity. Now that Malik Beasley is out for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring strain (just the T-Wolves’ luck) Edwards will have to continue to shoulder the scoring load. D’Angelo Russell should help create more space on the floor for Edwards to get to the rim off-ball and with the ball in his hands.

With a lineup of Russell, Edwards, McDaniels, Hernangomez and Towns on the court, all have the ability to hit the three-point shot at a high clip. If Edwards dives into the paint, it would be an easy kick-out to an open three-point shooter. Edwards has all the tools to continue his high level of play over the last 18 games of the season.

In the four games since Russell has come back Edwards is averaging 22.7 points (42% FG, 33% 3PT, 80% FT), 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Ant has had at least one steal in 24 consecutive games, which is the longest streak since Marcus Smart‘s 25 in the 2018-19 season.

If Edwards can replicate these numbers for the rest of the season, there is no doubt he will take home Rookie of the Year.

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About Andrew Hansen

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