At 22 years old, Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards is already reminding people of Michael Jordan during his first few years in the league with the Chicago Bulls. Of course, this noise has grown a lot louder after Edwards' heroics to sweep Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. We all knew the Timberwolves had a special player. From his confidence to his highlight reel plays, Edwards has continued to prove that he has that “it” factor to become the next face of the league. But after completing the first-round sweep in Phoenix on Sunday night, “AE” is becoming this generation's “MJ.”

“So impressed with Ant. So impressed with Ant. My favorite player to watch,” Durant spoke highly of Edwards immediately after Game 4 concluded. “Just grown so much since he came into the league. At 22, just his love for the game shines bright, and that's one of the reasons why I like him the most because he just loves basketball [and] is grateful to be in this position… He's gonna be somebody I'm following for the rest of his career.”

It is not every day a player earns this type of distinction and praise from Durant, who knows a thing or two about one of the best players in the league. All the time, we are so quick to compare players to the past. Edwards is not the first player to be compared to Jordan. However, there is something about the Jordan comparison this time around that just feels right.

Edwards and Jordan were both drafted by smaller market teams that, at the time, hadn't seen a string of consistency or success. Perhaps the best quality that sticks out regarding this comparison is that Ant isn't afraid to speak his mind and make bold claims that he will be the greatest, just like Jordan did at a young age. After all, the young Timberwolves star simply smiled in an interview with ESPN's Malika Andrews in February when he claimed, “I mean they not wrong,” in response to those in the industry comparing him to arguably the greatest basketball player, one of the greatest athletes, of all time.

Like Jordan early in his career, Edwards gets after it on both ends of the floor. Not only does he have the capability of single-handedly stopping his opponent on the perimeter and picking their pocket, but then Edwards will blast down the other end of the floor and elevate over anyone as he hammers in a dunk contest-like slam. There are athletes, and then there is Edwards, who is truly working his way into a class of his own in the NBA.

This is just the start of Edwards' journey. To say that he is what Jordan was right now early on in his career would be crazy. Jordan has six rings, six Finals MVPs, six scoring titles, and the list goes on. Edwards is a two-time All-Star who just delivered his franchise their first playoff series win since 2004. Oh, and this was the first time the Timberwolves swept their opponents in a playoff series. The sky's the limit for what this kid can achieve, or as Jordan once said, “the ceiling is the roof.”

Anthony Edwards dominates the Suns

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) celebrates against the Phoenix Suns after game four of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When you are the first overall pick in any draft, the expectations placed on your shoulders can feel insurmountable at times. For Edwards, this pressure has simply fed into his ego, one that is displayed with exuberant energy, passion, and love for the game he plays. To achieve stardom in the NBA, one has to embrace the challenges — both good and bad. Edwards has done just that, and he has maintained a certain level of swag in his game that just makes everyone nod their heads in approval.

The Timberwolves swept the Suns 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs. Aside from his impact defensively and what the Timberwolves did as a collective unit on that end of the floor against Phoenix, Edwards displayed his offensive brilliance against Durant, Booker, and Beal, three players who many would have argued were better offensive players than Minnesota's young star at the start of the season. Edwards scored at least 33 points with at least 12 made shots in three of these four games against the Suns, including his masterful 40-point performance with seven made threes to shut the door in Game 4.

The highlight of Minnesota's grand victory in Phoenix was quite possibly the dunk of the year when Edwards soared through the air and dunked over Durant with just over two minutes remaining in the game to put his team up four points. In addition to this looking like an iconic Jordan slam from the 90s, Edwards did so with two injured ankles that he had rolled during this game. After the game, Edwards made sure to show Durant the love he deserved while also letting his competitive nature take over.

“Man, it felt great. I got the utmost respect for KD man. Like, he comes in and competes every game,” Edwards said after the game. “I've watched every last one of his games since I've been about five, so I love that guy, man. And I'm excited to play with him this summer, talk a little trash, and let him know I sent him home.”

Not every player in the league has the capability to score 40 points in a game. Very few are able to do so on the road. Only a select number of players can score 40 points on the road in a playoff game. Only superstars achieve this in a series-clinching victory for their team.

Edwards is going to be an All-NBA selection for the first time in his career when those are announced in May. After representing the United States at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the Timberwolves star will also be able to call himself one of the 12 best American basketball players when he takes the stage with Team USA at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. This path to stardom for Edwards is starting to be recognized by the rest of the league.

NBA takes notice of Edwards' star status

 Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) reacts against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of game four of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The difference between a star and a superstar is what they do over the course of a game. Edwards had nine points at halftime against the Suns in Game 4 and was struggling to find a rhythm. Any other 22-year-old probably would've lost confidence in themselves and deferred to their teammates. Although he did rely heavily on Karl-Anthony Towns' production in the second half, Edwards remained aggressive, attacking the Suns' defense every chance he got.

Nine points at halftime quickly turned into 24 points at the end of the third quarter. By the end of the game, Edwards had 40 points to his name, shooting 11-of-15 from the floor in the second half and scoring a total of 31 second-half points. That is why Towns went out on a limb to say his teammate is the league's best player.

“He's the face of the league. I've been saying that. He hates when I say it, but it's true,” Towns said, with Edwards sitting right next to him. “Like I said, ‘Future so bright, got to put the sunglasses on.’”

Outside of the Timberwolves organization, other teams and players are beginning to recognize Edwards' greatness. Aside from players like Durant talking about Edwards, coaches around the league have been left flabbergasted as to how they can contain him.

Edwards' athleticism makes him a complete mismatch for virtually anyone else in the league, and the fact that he is a strong dribbler with either hand makes him lethal on offense. This is why even coaches believe in the Edwards-Jordan comparison.

“We all thought there was one kid who reminded us of MJ when he retired, and that was Kobe [Bryant]. It was sort of like a passing of the baton from Michael to Kobe,” one Eastern Conference assistant coach told ClutchPoints on Monday. “Edwards has that gift we all saw in Kobe, and he doesn't care what anybody thinks, which makes him even deadlier on the court. I just don't see another player out there right now that plays with that MJ energy and swag like Edwards does.”

What happened on Sunday is the start of Edwards' journey through stardom. Regardless of whether their playoff journey ends with a championship or not, Edwards has put the NBA on notice.

The main topic of discussion across the league this season revolved around who the next stars and faces would be once LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Durant ultimately call it quits. Obviously, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic aren't going anywhere, and Victor Wembanyama is only going to get better, but Edwards has a chance to be the X-factor the NBA didn't know they needed.

Every generation, there is one player who can simply change the trajectory and mindset of their organization. Jordan did so with the Bulls, and now Edwards is looking to do the same with the Timberwolves.