As the Minnesota Timberwolves went through their draft preparation to decide who to pick with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, those involved quickly fell in love with two candidates.
« We split us into groups where there was a Team (James) Wiseman, a Team Obi Toppin, Team Ant (Anthony Edwards), Team LaMelo (Ball) and we all took sections, ”a Timberwolves source told Bleacher Report. « We all put it in one big presentation. You looked at the Ant tape and said he was the guy, then you look at LaMelo’s presentation and you say, ‘Holy shit, LaMelo is the guy.' » </ While there were a few fans among the 12 Wiseman fans directly involved in the process, the space quickly narrowed to Edwards, the athletic shooting guard from Georgia, and Ball, the 6'6 "point guard who plays in the NBL.
Now that both players have completed their rookie seasons, there is no question who were the two best players in the draft.
The debate now begins as to whether Ball or Edwards will ultimately have the better career.
On Wednesday ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Ball was named Rookie of the Year 2020-21. While Edwards was the top scorer of all rookies with 19.3 points per game, Ball was the better rebounder, passer and the better more efficient shooter of the two, Edwards was more durable – he played in all 72 games – while Ball’s Charlotte Hornets had the better season despite his right wrist injury, which resulted in him missing 21 games.
« To come back to my pre-draft reports, there we obviously gathered a lot of information on LaMelo, my reports said LaMelo is the best player right now. Ant has the potential to be the best player in the end, « the Timberwolves source told B / R.
» LaMelo sees the game and already knows the game at the stage he’s at. That’s Ant’s weakness at the moment, and sometimes the hardest to find. Ant is like a child who doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. All you have to do is tell him and he’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that.’ I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do. «
While the consensus is that Ball is the finished star, Edwards could soon surpass him, ignoring of course that both are only 19 years old and could get better in a decade. « On the night of the NBA draft, my final words to the Charlotte Hornets were on the air: ‘I’ll support anything you do unless you design the LaMelo Ball ‘ »Nick Wilson, radio host for WFNZ Charlotte, told B / R.
» I’m saying this to tell you that this kid made me a believer. I loved Anthony Edwards. I was hoping ‘Edwards was going to fall because I thought Edwards next to Terry Rozier and the whisper of Gordon Hayward, I thought this could be really, really special, I’ve never seen myself hit 180 but I did Absolutely there. I think he’s going to be a superstar. «
One catch Winning people is one thing, but winning a dressing room as a teenager is quite another.
Ball had been famous since a freshman at Chino Hills High School, a skinny guard who dated Brother Lonzo and future Atlanta Hawks lottery winner Onyeka Okongwu shared the word.
Edwards had all of the physical tools that came from Georgia but was an inefficient shooter who didn’t immediately scream # 1 overall.
For Edwards there was the night before the start of the season when he and his rookie colleague Jaden McDaniels were in Minneapolis. D’Angelo Russell was also in town and called the two rookies over for 9 p.m. shooting around.
Russell, already an All-Star and going into his sixth season, let the rookies have it.
« F – k you, Ant! You ain’t got that! You ain’t got that! » Russell yelled after spraying sweaters one by one. McDaniels, the 28th overall pick of the draft, was stunned.
« Jaden hasn’t said a word the whole time. He looked scared to death. His eyes were just wide open, like a deer in headlights, like, ‘Who is this crazy guy who yells and talks so much? ? ‘ Jaden didn’t say a word. He just fired his shots and walked to the end of the line, « a Timberwolves coach who was on the shootaround told B / R.
While McDaniels did what most rookies would and Russell his moment Edwards began to give it back immediately.
It was a scene that surprised those present, especially since no one on the team had met the first year boys.
« I don’t see that with any beginner, this one Personality. Ant was just loud and that got him going, that’s just how he is. He was like that all season. He’d do it with Karl-Anthony Towns « It doesn’t matter if Michael Jordan was in there, he’d be the exact same person. It’s not personal, he’s just competitive, » said the Timberwolves coach.
Later During the season when the team was doing drills, one of Edwards’ teammates was working on his corner three, even though he was someone who doesn’t normally take them.
« This is not your game! Don’t do that! « , The rookie yelled and caught the surprise of the surrounding veterans.
» Hey, it’s nothing personal, this is just not your game. This is not your D – t. Don’t do that, « Edwards replied calmly.
» You just don’t see that with a beginner. Ant didn’t make a scene. He just said it in passing and went on to the next exercise. It was like, ‘Hell, the beginner just put me in my place. ‘”Said the Timberwolves trainer. « But it wasn’t something that everyone else didn’t know. The way Ant does it is not personal. He put his arm around the guy at the next game. Ant is a really good teammate. »
Ball, like Edwards, had to fight for his place in the starting XI as both came off the bench to start the season.
Playing with ball was extremely easy from the start, with LaMelo immediately proving to be one of the best and most creative passer-by in the league.
« LaMelo came in and won over his teammates in a ‘no bulls – t’ way. Be it his attitude, his coaching ability, » said Wilson. “Nobody really knew what to expect from LaMelo when they drew this kid. They drafted him for his skills, but didn’t get a chance to meet him because of the way the pre-design process worked. They were top three -Boys doing draft and that’s the guy you liked. «
Ball and Edwards are now part of a new wave of young NBA talent who are already making a huge impact on the league. From Luka Doncic and Trae Young to Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, this seems to be another draft class with two very special talents.
“Apart from Luka Doncic, there is no player under the age of 23 in the NBA – and that also owns Zion Williamson – who I’d like to build a different franchise than LaMelo around, ”said Wilson. “Anthony Edwards is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a better athlete than LaMelo. If you’re talking about the type of player you have to build around, it’s people with exactly the same skill set as LaMelo Ball. I would say he’s closer to 6’8 « than the 6’6 » he’s listed . To have a 6’8 « point guard to do what he did as a rookie, I still think he’s just scratching the surface. You could say he’s better now, but he is still incredibly raw. «
Of course, Dwyane Wade, arguably the third-best shooting guard of all time, has stated on record that Edwards can be a better player than he was.
» I definitely think so he can be a better player than me. He has all the tools. «
@DwyaneWade has high hopes for Anthony Edwards. https://t.co/0CcSdPM3eK
« I think Ant will be better than D-Wade, » said the Timberwolves trainer. « He’s got a three-point shot. He’s getting better defensively. He can do it. On the offensive, there’s not much he can’t do and he’s just scratching the surface. I feel like his ceiling is unlimited. I think LaMelo’s ceiling « is very high, but slightly more limited than Ant’s. »
While both players are destined to form future All-Star teams, there are obviously still weaknesses in each of their games.Edwards sometimes struggles with shot selection. Ball could use extra muscle. Nothing unusual for a couple of teenagers who have just finished a rookie season with no summer league or preseason.
Although Edwards apparently has the higher ceiling, it matters to remind himself that Ball’s potential also goes through the roof. He is finally in one place and is getting NBA coaching for the first time with a mostly constant group of teammates around him. All of these factors cannot be overlooked.
The dec heath who has a better future depends on who you ask. Both exceeded the expectations of the rookies and should be seen as the faces of the league in the years to come.
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