Anthony Edwards Scouting Report: Top 5 NBA Draft Pick

Overall Impressions

People look at the Georgia Bulldogs 2019 record and Anthony Edwards’ shooting percentages and immediately call him a bust. I’ve even heard analysts claim that Edwards has the lowest ceiling of any top-5 prospect. I simply disagree. After hours of watching film, I feel very comfortable selecting Anthony Edwards with a top-three pick. Many of his perceived weaknesses can easily turn into strengths with good coaching and work ethic. I have no doubts that in the right system, Edwards will shine. Because of this, Edwards is more than worth a top selection in this year’s draft.

What makes Edwards so menacing is his frame. At 6’5’’ 225 pounds and a 6’9” wingspan, Edwards has an NBA body. With this body comes the potential to be an elite perimeter defender. On offense, Edwards downright bullied smaller guards, using his strength to overpower opposing team’s switches. He has a quick first step allowing him to blow by weak perimeter defenders and shift past taller post players. I love the confidence he plays with, he doesn’t allow a bad possession to affect his body language. In comparison to other prospects, Edwards has one of the highest ceilings and highest floors.

Statistics

PTSREBASTSTLBLKFG%3PT%FT%TO
19.14.52.81.3.6.402%.294%77.2%2.7

The Georgia Bulldog’s season was a disappointment. The Bulldogs finished .500 and weren’t even close to making the tournament. While competing well against the nation’s best, the Bulldog’s lacked the perimeter playmaking or interior presence to translate these close games into wins.

In a disappointing season, Edwards was one of the few shining points. Edwards finished the season with an impressive 19.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He showed quick hands with 1.3 steals per game and shot a quality .402% and .294% given his offensive workload. While he struggled with turnovers, 2.7 per game, his offensive workload once again was a contributing factor. He was often called to create plays out of nothing and make complex reads, both of which he struggles. I doubt this will concern teams that have a playmaking point guard.

Edwards can’t be blamed for his team’s struggles. He played well against elite competition with a 37 point, 6 rebound performance against Michigan State, and a 23 point performance against Kentucky. Both ended in losses. While his stats outside points are mediocre, I believe his supporting cast is partially to blame.

Pros

The one thing that immediately stands out when watching Anthony Edwards is his ability to change directions. On so many fast-breaks, you see Edwards make devastating cuts for an easy throwdown slam. This ability to change directions combined with great footwork and natural speed makes him not only a great transition player but also an elite isolation player.

https://twitter.com/hardwoodherald/status/1201517075220578306

Adding to his stocky frame is an explosive jumper. If you’re a defender and Anthony Edwards drives to the basket, you have to move out the way. Edwards relishes the opportunity to make you the next posterized victim. I also love how he uses this athleticism in so many ways. In order to get opportunities to explode into a dunk, he uses his length and side-to-side agility to disrupt passing lanes. His explosive ability is an outstanding trait that can bring energy to any offensive unit.

Outside of his athleticism, his shooting stroke is clean. He jumps to the highest point, keeps his elbows locked in, and has a smooth wrist flick. He creatively uses jabs to create enough space on jump shots. However, open space was hard to come by in Georgia. While he shot a disappointing .294% from three, most of these shots were highly contested because the Bulldogs lacked guys that could space the floor. In the proper system with quality perimeter scorers, expect Edwards to lift his shooting percentages.

https://twitter.com/Kyle__Boone/status/1199453030950809605

Lastly, his isolation skills are beautiful to watch. Fans can’t forget that Edwards is still only 18 and started his freshman year as one of the youngest players in college basketball. He’s patient, lulling his defenders to sleep and then using his quick first step to edge past them. He has the strength to play with his back against the basket and showcases a unique set of crossover skills. Teams will have to provide help defense on Edwards in the NBA or he will make opposing guards look like amateurs.

Cons

Effort is one of the biggest issues I see with Edwards. He doesn’t maximize his size, frame, and length due to his failure to rotate on team defense and stay low on man defense. Too many times Edwards will stand high and stiff, allowing an explosive offensive player to quickly beat him to the basket. He doesn’t do many of the little things to be consistent on the defensive end – hands out, playing the pin in pick-and-rolls. However, these are all areas Edwards can improve. If he gets the right defensive-minded head coach, Anthony Edwards will make a name for himself on defense.

His passing leaves a lot to be desired. He’s not a great passer and often misses wide-open passing lanes because he is too focused on creating his own shot. Part of this is due to his team’s lack of playmaking, which forced Edwards to rely on his own shot creation. He’s okay at passing in the pick-and-roll but often decided to go against the double team instead of passing it to his wide-open teammate at the top of the key. His vision is murky at best. When running the point, Edwards struggled to see open teammates cutting to the basket. If paired with a prototypical point guard, Edwards will thrive because he doesn’t need to make the advanced read.

Lastly, Edwards struggles with his shot IQ. Most of his shots came from the perimeter, which was a travesty given his size and athleticism. A player his size should have no issue when matched against most two guards in the league. However, he didn’t take these opportunities and instead settled for contested jumpers. Part of this could be due to fatigue, he was constantly doubled-teamed and controlled the ball on most possessions. Edwards should have the shot selection of a slasher. If Edwards can find the proper balance, he will become an even deadlier offensive weapon.

Best Team Fit

Golden State WarriorsGolden State Warriors

This is the most team-oriented, play within a system type of organization in the league. For Edwards, the Warriors would be invaluable. Edwards would be forced to grow within a team concept and limit his role to what he is most effective at doing, scoring the ball at different levels of the court. While James Wiseman is linked to the Warriors, I don’t see the fit. The Warriors won championships on small-ball lineups with no true-elite center. I would much rather see the team go for Aron Baynes or Derrick Favors in free-agency on cheap contracts. Adding Anthony Edwards behind Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, and Green would provide the team more flexibility in small-ball lineups. Having 3 guys, Curry, Wiggins, and Edwards that can effectively create their own shot will pose a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.

Again, having Edwards start his career in a winning franchise with a team-first philosophy will sharpen Edwards’s game. His contested shot percentage and turnovers will decrease as he will have easier opportunities and looks at the basket. He can learn in a defensive system that emphasizes rotating and off-ball movement. This is the perfect spot for Edwards to launch his career.

Player Comparison

Edwards reminds me a lot of Zach LaVine, not in terms of build, but, in terms of playstyle. Both are explosive athletes that have that quick first step and balance to finish their dunks. Zach LaVine is a much better shooter but folks underestimate Edwards’s potential to become a lethal shooter in his own right. Both know how to pick apart their defenders on isolation plays and can disrupt passing lanes with their length. There’s room for improvement on the defensive end and both struggle to make passes beyond the simple read. However, their athletic capabilities combined with their shooting ability ensure that they will receive consistent playing time in the NBA.

Draft Range

Anthony Edwards is a top-three draft pick. His size, athleticism, his defensive frame, and shooting form all signal a quality NBA starter hidden in the shadows. If he gets the proper refinement in the NBA, look for Edwards to be an elite slasher with range, a deadly combination in today’s NBA. Edwards is the only player in this draft that I definitively believe can average 18-20 points day one. If he cleans up his defense and improves his passing, I could see Edwards become a borderline all-star for years to come.

  
Miles Jasper is an incoming law student studying employment and labor law. Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. He also likes to analyze college prospects and participate in fantasy sports. In his free time, Miles is an avid runner who also enjoys poker, cooking, and watching movies.

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