CBS Sports posted a mock draft last week in which the Charlotte Hornets landed Anthony Edwards with the third pick in the draft. Edwards was previously out of the Hornets’ reach when they were sitting at the eighth pick, but the lottery drawing has moved the Hornets up to a place where they could conceivably grab who many think is the best player in this draft class.
Weight: 225 pounds
Strengths: Athleticism, defensive potential, shot making, star potential
Anthony Edwards has all the physical tools you look for in an NBA guard. He’s quick, explosive, long, and strong. He’s a force when he gets a head of steam towards the basket and can blow by defenders in the open court.
Those physical tools also give him stopper potential on the defensive end, even though he hasn’t fully committed to that side of the ball yet. When he’s locked in, he cuts off drives from the perimeter and creates havoc on opposing ball handlers. He’s quick enough to jump passing lanes and make impressive blocks at the basket when he positions himself well.
Where Edwards really stands out as a prospect is with his shot making. He’s a three level scorer—able to finish with power and finesse at the basket while also having the ability to create open jump shots for himself on the perimeter. He has a very good step back jump shot with deep range that should become a go-to shot for him at the next level. His percentages aren’t great as he was shouldered with a heavy burden creating shots for a bad Georgia Bulldogs team. His 3-point shooting is better than his 29.4% 3-point percentage in college would suggest, and his 77.2% free throw percentage reaffirms that notion.
Edwards is a willing passer, which is necessary for players with star aspirations in today’s NBA. He averaged a respectable 3.4 assists per 40 minutes and shows flashes of vision and passing ability for an off guard. He also has an infectious charisma that will fit on any roster.
Question marks: Shot selection, defensive intensity, ability to impact winning
Edwards low shooting percentages are a direct result of his shot selection. A lot of that had to do with his supporting cast, but he still settled for jump shots too often. For as strong as Edwards is getting to the basket, he didn’t do it often enough at Georgia.
On that same token, Edwards isn’t consistently as a good a defender as he could be. Again, some of this could be blamed on his situation, where he was doing all the heavy lifting for a team that wasn’t going anywhere, but it’s worth noting. Edwards isn’t the most alert off ball defender and sometimes doesn’t make enough of an effort sticking with his cover in man-to-man situations.
Both of those concerns tie into a bigger question—can Anthony Edwards make a positive overall impact for his team? His advanced stats aren’t impressive and he’s never been on a good team at a high level. Is that a product of his environment or his play style?
Edwards fits exactly what the Hornets will be looking for in this draft. He fills a need a the off guard position and has the star potential that this roster is lacking. If the Hornets take him, they’ll do so with the expectation that a professional environment with less burden will make it easier for Edwards to do the little things he struggled with in college—shot selection and consistent defensive intensity. If he cleans those things up, Edwards could be the face of the franchise going forward.