Possible No. 1 pick NBA draft pick Anthony Edwards said something he shouldn’t have, but it’s way too easy to overreact to it.
The late buzz has Georgia basketball guard Anthony Edwards going No.1 overall in Wednesday night’s NBA Draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s a virtual lock to go in the first 3-5 picks, barring something unforeseen.
Being touted as a top draft pick comes with requisite scrutiny, from what a player can or can’t do on the floor to dissection of everything they tweet or say. The on-court comparisons Edwards is drawing are lofty (Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, even Dwyane Wade?).
ESPN’s Alex Scarborough did a deep-dive into Edwards as a person and a prospect as well as his work leading into the draft. The buzz-worthy takeaway from the piece is what Edwards said when interviewed.
“I’m still not really into it,” Edwards said. “I love basketball, yeah … basketball is my heart, but football is where I started, so I’ll never forget about that. But don’t get me wrong, basketball is my No. 1 because I feel like it’s going to get me through a lot of the stuff I need to get through.”
Edwards elaborated, saying that he feels as though basketball is more of an occupation than a love.
“It’s what I do. It’s a job,” Edwards added. “I feel like I’m working right now. I love it.”
Edwards’ trainer, Justin Holland, attempted to clarify things to Scarborough.
“That’s the way Edwards consumes basketball, Holland says, in short bursts. When Edwards said he wasn’t a fan of basketball, Holland says what he meant is he’s not a fan of watching games like he does football. But make no mistake, Holland says, he’s a student of the sport, breaking down clips of Bradley Beal’s step-back on his iPhone.
Edwards is a tough nut to crack, isn’t he? I ask.
“Right,” he says.
Let’s not overreact to what Anthony Edwards said
As he nears the end of what is his job interview, Edwards said something that will and should be troublesome to NBA teams. Thinking of basketball as a job he’s not totally “into” is one thing, and makes him hardly unique among athletes. But saying so in an interview, when it knows it’ll come out publicly, is strikingly naive. He’s also a 19-year old and on the scale of bad judgements saying something he surely should not have feels small.
Another takeaway from Scarborough’s piece is that Edwards appears to be putting in the work to prepare for the NBA. So it’s not a question of his tangible effort, it’s a question of having lesser passion for the sport that has taken him down the path to the pros over football.
Is that a red flag? Yes.
But is it independent grounds for teams to drop Edwards down their draft boards?
Hardly, and teams will rely on their full assessments of him beyond an ill-advised quote.
All-time greats like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had a level of passion that gave them an edge over their competitors, and created conflict with teammates. Edwards has said something that suggests he’s not wired that way, as teams consider making him a possible franchise cornerstone. He will surely be asked about it when he’s drafted Wednesday night, but it’s way too easy to make a broad assessment based on something he shouldn’t have said.