Main Scouting Report
Anthony Edwards was the number one recruit coming out of high school in the 2019 class and had an up and down year for a mediocre Georgia squad. Edwards had plenty of jaw-dropping moments but struggled with efficiency on offense as he tried to carry Georgia’s anemic offense. Also, Edwards had plenty of moments where he did give 100% effort on the court, but we have seen that from other top recruits that went to struggling schools such as Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz in recent years. I do not think the inconsistent effort that Edwards displayed in college will translate to the NBA.
Standing at 6’5 and 225 pounds, Edwards is built like a middle linebacker, and can bully his way through defenders and use his lightning-quick speed to start the break as a secondary ballhandler. The main question going forward for Edwards is his ability to create for himself and others on a consistent basis, but I am confident that Edwards will be one of the best players in the draft this year and will be successful in the NBA, depending on where he ends up.
Edwards had to be the primary ballhandler for Georgia most of the time and struggled with turnovers. Edwards improved his handle enough to be able to break down defenders off the dribble, and has all of the tools to be an elite scorer in the NBA. He has the physicality and athleticism to finish through or over anyone at the rim, as well as the ability to knock down shots and create space for himself. For me, Edwards is the best prospect in the draft pool this year because of his athletic ability and growth he showed on a bad Georgia team. Edwards has all the tools to be a successful main scorer for a team like Bradley Beal or Devin Booker.
Edwards has all the tools to be a menace on both sides of the ball at the next level. He is the most athletic player in the draft with over a 40’ vertical and a wide, 225 lb frame. Edwards can bully defenders into submission around the rim, as well as elevate and finish over larger defenders.
Edwards also showed the ability to break down defenders off the dribble and create space for himself. He has an effective left to right crossover that allows him to explode past defenders using his amazing burst of speed. To couple with that, Edwards has a Kemba Walker style stepback that left defenders in the dust, allowing Edwards to comfortably get his shot up. His dribble packages coming out of college remind me of James Harden, but he has much more athleticism than Harden and could be a more effective finisher.
Despite having occasional struggles with turnovers throughout the season, Edwards proved that he was a much better passer than he was given credit for entering college. Often times, Edwards would run the outlet for Georgia and could set up shooters with ease when defenders collapsed on his drive to the rim. He showed that he can make any pass with either hand and could be an effective playmaker at the next level.
Anthony Edwards had a monster showing against Florida, with 32 points (10/17 shooting, 6/9 from 3, 6/7 at the line), 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 1 assist.
He flashed elite pull-up shooting, interior finishing, defensive playmaking and facilitating: pic.twitter.com/pYkZ67HFnF
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) February 6, 2020
In the clip above, Edwards had his full offensive arsenal on display against Florida. He played as the lead guard and was able to score at will despite being the focal point of Florida’s defensive gameplan. Edwards showed that his vertical is a key component to his game, as he was able to elevate over taller defenders to get his shot off. He has a smooth jumper that he released at the top of his jump, making it practically impossible to block his shot because of his 40” vertical.
Edwards is also a good defender that has all the tools to be a great defender at the next level. Edwards has the lateral speed to stay with any defender off the dribble and can recover quickly to contest shots with his 6’9 wingspan. He had some issues with foul trouble and effort on the defensive end but can be a great defender with consistent effort on that end. In the clips below, you can see the potential with Edwards’ defense and the frustration with Edwards as a prospect. In the first clip, Edwards plays sound pick and roll defense, proving that he can be a valuable asset as an on-ball defender.
This was(?) Anthony Edwards' best defensive play of the season…and it came in his 6th game. This is as technically sound all around as you can get
– PnR defense over the top
– footwork at POA
– footwork sliding
– lateral quickness, length, pop + avoid foul pic.twitter.com/350ig6GnWe
— Spencer (@SKPearlman) May 19, 2020
I have touched on the weaknesses in Edwards’ games so far, but now we get to dive in deep. Edwards was the consensus number one player coming into the year and was seen as a lock as the first overall pick for the upcoming draft. However, Edwards began to slip after he was inefficient on offense and did not consistently try on defense despite being a good defender.
This season, Edwards shot 40% from the field and 29% from 3, which are not encouraging numbers by any means. Often times, Edwards would settle for jump shots despite having a size and athletic advantage over his defender, which would be frustrating to see. At the next level, Edwards needs to be more patient on offense and allow the game to come to him, and not settle for contested jumpers as often as he did at Georgia. However, Edwards was Georgia’s best player by a wide margin and had to take a high volume of shots to try to carry Georgia to victory. His shot selection should improve considerably when he is surrounded by better players.
The biggest concern with Edwards is his lack of consistent effort on the court. Often times, Edwards would walk the ball up the court with no sense of urgency and look like he did not want to be out on the court at all. On defense, Edwards would often play “matador” defense, allowing the player to drive right past him to the rim, without trying to stay with him at all. He did not try to hide his frustration when the team struggled, and would oftentimes hold onto the ball for the entire shot clock and be a detriment to Georgia’s offense. In the clip below, Edwards does not attempt to box out his man or grab the board and gives up an easy putback layup.
Anthony Edwards' defense is very much hypothetical at this point. So underwhelming pic.twitter.com/ZKwmp3CAdc
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 8, 2020
Brutal defensive awareness and effort from Anthony Edwards pic.twitter.com/OHO4MyCyVa
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 16, 2020
It is tough to compare Edwards to one player in the NBA right now because he has such a unique blend of athleticism and ball handling. At the peak of his powers, Edwards is unstoppable on offense as he can shoot over anyone, and blow past them and finish above the rim through contact. When Edwards is cooking, his game reminds me of Russell Westbrook. He looks to attack the rim and punish anyone that gets in his way and has the playmaking ability to punish the defense if they collapse on him. On defense, Westbrook uses his athleticism and quickness to his advantage as an on-ball defender, and Edwards has all the tools to be as equally good on defense. However, Edwards has not shown that he has the constant intensity of Westbrook and must improve his effort on both sides of the ball.
On the other side of the spectrum, I think Edwards could end up being a player like Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is an average wing player in the NBA but has the physical tools and playmaking to be much better. Wiggins has had problems with inconsistent effort and shot selection in his time in the NBA so far, the same problems that Edwards showed at Georgia. I think Edwards needs to end up in a better position than Wiggins did when he entered the NBA, so he does not develop bad habits while trying to carry the offense as Wiggins did for the Timberwolves.
I think Edwards will end up closer to Russell Westbrook rather than Wiggins, but he is not polished enough as a prospect to carry a team by himself without developing detrimental habits.
I will be shocked if Edwards ends up slipping outside of the top 3 of the draft. For me, he is the best prospect in the draft class still because of his potential as a 2-way player that can be a strong secondary ballhandler, like Bradley Beal or Devin Booker. Out of all of the teams that are at the top end of the lottery, Edwards would work best on a team where they have an established point guard already, allowing him to slide into an off-ball role.
Out of any of the teams at the very top, I think the best fit for Edwards would be the Golden State Warriors. They have a great offensive system with one of the best point guards of all-time in Steph Curry. Steve Kerr is one of the best coaches in the league and would maximize Edwards’ offensive ability playing off of Curry and Klay Thompson, and he could hide Edwards on defense as he works through the adjustments to the speed of the NBA. He would also fit well in places such as Atlanta or Cleveland, where he could thrive alongside other strong, young guards.
However, if he ends up in a place like New York or Chicago, I think that he could develop bad habits as he tries to carry the offense, and he could end up more on the Wiggins end of the spectrum.
Edwards is a consensus top-5 pick in this year’s draft and has a great chance to go first overall. He is my top overall prospect, however, there is no consensus among NBA front offices about the order of the top of the draft. It is considered a relatively weak draft at the top, and many teams will draft for fit rather than the best overall prospect. However, I think there is absolutely no chance that Edwards slips below the 5th overall pick, and will be one of the best rookies in the league next year.
Basketball IQ: 7
Edwards knows the game of basketball but had lapses in judgment on the defensive end.
Edwards was the on-court leader for Georgia but was not a vocal leader for them like he needed to be.
Edwards is an athletic specimen that will be one of the most athletic players in the NBA immediately.
Edwards has the potential to be one of the best players coming out of this draft.
Edwards was a solid shooter off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations, but had some problems with efficiency.
The most underrated part of Edwards’ game is his ability to be a primary playmaker.
Edwards has the ability to break down defenders off the dribble and score at the rim.
Edwards’ athleticism and wingspan make him a good rebounder from the guard spot.
Edwards was very inconsistent in terms of effort on the defensive effort and that could be the reason he is not the first pick in the draft.
Edwards has all the tools to be an elite defender but needs to try more consistently to be a good defender.
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