While Anthony Edwards just became the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, his path to success wasn’t always set that way. Edwards did a complete 180 in terms of his career path, and he deserves credit for becoming a big-time basketball prospect.
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During an interview with SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell in 2019, Edwards talked about how he could have pursued a career in the NFL because he was so good at football, only to decide to take up basketball instead.
“I could have been a professional football player,” Edwards said. “I was really good. I was the No. 1 running back in the country at 9 or 10. I stopped playing because I seen my brothers playing basketball. I thought it looked more fun.”
Just like that, Edwards’ ascension to a top draft pick was underway. He saw a more distinct future in the NBA than he if continued down the path of becoming a top running back recruit. The possibility of him sticking with football is an intriguing what-if scenario, and it’s fun to think about him playing between the hedges at Georgia instead of taking his talents to the Athens hardwood.
Edward admits his love for football to this day, but he ultimately decided the basketball route was better for him. The youngster stayed close to home by choosing Georgia, making a name for himself with a tantalizing yet inconsistent one-and-done season.
Edwards averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his lone season with the Bulldogs. He has drawn comparisons to current NBA stars such as Donovan Mitchell and Victor Oladipo, and Dwyane Wade is one of his idols. Edwards, Oladipo and Wade all played for the same college coach in Tom Crean.
Edwards is one of the best attackers at the rim in his draft class while being freakishly athletic, which should serve him well in his coming years. Even so, his jump shot could use some work, and that will hopefully come with time. He shot just 29.4 percent from beyond the arc with Georgia, which simply has to improve if he plans on starring in today’s league. His playmaking and defense need to improve as well as he develops his game and learns the ins and outs of the NBA.
There are some other concerns about Edwards’ mentality and demeanor as he enters the league. A knock against him is that he isn’t always focused and doesn’t love the game enough. However, one has to consider what Anthony Edwards has gone through in life, including the loss of his mother and grandmother in the same year when he was just 14 years old.
The 19-year-old will attempt to put all these criticisms to rest as he looks to make an immediate impact with the Timberwolves for a long time to come.