Everything You Need To Know About Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards is one of the most electric scorers in the country. With one of the highest ceilings in this draft, Edwards won't last long in the draft.

Anthony Edwards has been at the top of draft boards since he was in high school. Despite a tumultuous season for Georgia, Edwards still looks to be the most gifted prospect in this draft.

This draft has been well regarded as a down year for prospects, but that doesn’t mean it is void of talent. While there are some serious concerns with Edwards’ game, he still has the highest ceiling in the draft.

The most intriguing aspect of Edwards’ future development is his scoring versatility. When Edwards has the ball, he is a threat to score from any spot on the floor. His size and athleticism are obvious, and at just 18, he is one of the few NBA ready athletes.

Edwards punishes defenses by using his athleticism to beat defenders off the drive, running in transition, knocking down jumpers, and making well-timed cuts.

Edwards is at his peak level of comfort with the ball in his hands. He is used to initiating the offense and creating his shot out of nothing. This has turned him into a dynamic scorer and a tough-shot-maker.

One of the most common sets in the NBA game is the pick-and-roll. In Edwards’ limited time at Georgia, he has shown that he can create a lot out of these situations. With Edwards as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Georgia scored .9 points per possession (PPP) which ranked in the 69th percentile, per Synergy.

While Edwards struggled shooting out of these situations (22nd percentile), he was excellent at attacking the rim and finding open shooters. When Edwards attacked the rim out of the pick-and-roll he scored 1.211 PPP (81st percentile). Georgia experienced similar success in the pick-and-roll when Edwards passed it to a spot-up shooter as they scored 1.147 PPP (86th percentile).

The threat of Edwards driving in these situations puts defenses on their heels. His willingness to pass makes them vulnerable. In the below clip, we can see how effective Edwards is while running the pick-and-roll. Edwards doesn’t get a great screen, but the defender is bumped just enough for Edwards to use a burst of speed to beat him to the three-point line. Once Edwards hits that spot, he has the defender on his hip and knows that he has him beat. As Edwards gets to the paint, a weakside defender rotates to cut off his driving lane.

Edwards nullifies the weakside defender and his defender by picking up his drive at the free-throw line. By doing this, the weakside defender retreats to his man because he thinks that Edwards is about to find the open shooter. The change-of-pace dribbling and long strides also throw off the timing and any shot-blocking potential of Edwards’s initial defender.

Situations like these highlight the rare intuition and athleticism Edwards has for a player his size. Edwards is also very proficient when driving out of isolations where he scores 1.029 PPP (79th percentile).

Here we see Edwards recognize the mismatch and use his athleticism to his full advantage. Once Edwards realizes that he has a slow center on him, he lowers his head and gets to the rim with ease. Edwards uses a slight hesitation at the start of his dribble, which freezes the defender for a split second. Edwards then uses his speed to get to the hoop and his strength to finish with ease through contact.

In this clip, we get a better idea of Edwards’s creativity and finesse instead of just brute athleticism. Edwards is matched up against Isaac Okoro (one of the best defenders in the country), but isn’t deterred in the slightest. Edwards utilizes a series of crossovers to initially create a driving lane. Once Edwards initiates his drive, he takes more of a looping route, instead of a straight line, to the rim.

This allows Okoro to recover, but not stop Edwards. Edwards does a great job of getting into Okoro’s chest as he takes off for the shot. This move helps create more space for Edwards and limits how much Okoro can elevate to block the shot.

The situation doesn’t matter when it comes to Edwards’ ability to score. He’s in the 82nd percentile in transition scoring, can create out of the pick-and-roll, and is a bull when attacking the rim. The aspect of his game that is the most intriguing, but also the most concerning, is Edwards’ off-ball movement.

When you watch a Georgia game, there can be stretches (sometimes long ones) where you completely forget that Edwards is on the floor. He looks disinterested and is exerting little to no effort. Individual skillsets are enticing when it comes to draft prospects, but work-rate is nearly impossible to teach.

There are plenty of superstars that don’t do much off-ball work, sure, but Edwards will likely struggle to be an efficient scorer at the start of his career. A way to alleviate the down spells is by making well-timed cuts and rotating on the wing. Simple movements can create easy scoring chances that can spark his overall offense.

I waffle daily about how concerning this blemish on his game is. Part of me wants to blame it on Georgia just being bad, but then I worry that he isn’t making his teammates better. Other times, I settle on Edwards is just bored with college and is ready for the NBA. Regardless of what dictates my emotions and doubts, though, I routinely come away impressed on the rare occurrences we do get off-ball movement by Edwards.

When he wants to be, Edwards is a deadly cutter. This season he is scoring 1.278 PPP (72nd percentile) when he cuts. The problem is, he only cuts 5.5 percent of the time.

In the below clip, Edwards shows how good of a cutter he is. As the clock is winding down, Edwards begins in the corner at the top of the video. As the ball-handler dribbles towards his side, Edwards begins to rotate as if he is going for a dribble handoff. Edwards recognizes his defender is overcommitting, makes a hard jab-step, and bolts backdoor for a thunderous dunk.

Plays like this make me way more excited for Edwards’s future than when he is making heavily contested jumpers. The teams at the top of this draft have some of the best point guards in the league: Steph Curry, D’Angelo Russell, and Trae Young. Edwards won’t be used as much as an initiator on any of those teams. If he can learn to be more active away from the ball, though, he can become an electric scorer.

While Edwards will make an offensive impact from the jump, his defensive impact is still based mostly on potential.

His size and athleticism provide a perfect foundation for a good wing defender, but he lacks the toughness as an on-ball defender to make a true impact. Similarly, to his offensive involvement, Edwards’s defensive effort regularly slackens.

He struggles to fight through screens and has poor instincts when defending isolation. When he is defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Edwards is allowing .862 PPP (26th percentile). When opponents isolate him, he allows .857 PPP (34th percentile). Edwards will need to improve his defensive stance, commitment, and intensity; otherwise, opponents will seek him out to take advantage of.

The puzzling element, though, is that Edwards is an excellent off-ball defender. He averages 1.4 steals per game, which frequently come with him jumping passing lanes. He is in the 86th percentile in defending spot-up shooters, and he is in the 93rd percentile when his opponent is running off screens.

The lack of intensity that Edwards displays for stretches on both ends is the most troubling feature of his game.

Despite that, his raw talent and scoring ability give him one of, if not the, highest ceilings in this draft. If Edwards can lock in on both ends of the floor, he has the skillset to become a Paul George or Jayson Tatum type of player. However, if he continues to just go through the motions, I worry that he will continue as an inefficient scorer, who always leaves his team wanting more like Andrew Wiggins.

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