Anthony Edwards

Northwest Notes: Grant, Gobert, Forbes, MPJ

Trail Blazers power forward Jerami Grant has once again elevated his play during his first season in Portland, potentially to an All-Star level, opines Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

The 6’8″ forward out of Syracuse is averaging 19.7 PPG on .480/.482/.750 shooting, while also contributing 4.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.9 BPG and 0.8 SPG. Beyond the stats, Fentress notes that Grant is a versatile defender, capable of guarding at least four positions.

“Just getting started,” Grant said of his run with the Trail Blazers. “I think it’s going the right way, though. Winning a lot of games… You get less attention [with All-Star point guard Damian Lillard as the focal point of opposing defenses]… You’re able to go one-on-one. You’re able to make plays and pick your spots.”

There’s so many really good players in the league that it’s hard to be an All-Star,” Lillard said. “So, for him it’s like whether he’s actually on an All-Star team or makes the All-Star team, or not, he’s that caliber player. So, I think we definitely got that guy that we were looking for at that position.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The addition of three-time Defensive Player of the Year center Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves seems to have somewhat disrupted the offensive output of talented third-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN in an in-depth piece. Having Gobert manning the middle has cramped Minnesota’s floor spacing, as point guard D’Angelo Russell acknowledged. “It’s our main thing on offense we’re trying to figure out,” Russell told MacMahon. “Obviously, you see us running into each other, trying to back door and might run into a guy. It’s just little things like that that aren’t in sync right now. It’s kind of hard to find rhythm or flow.”
  • Timberwolves backup swingman Bryn Forbes is bringing positive energy to the team despite not being a regular part of the rotation, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “That’s where I see a big role for me,” Forbes said. “Being encouraging, bringing the energy. Giving that off instead of having a bad attitude or this, that or the other.” Minnesota signed the 29-year-old vet in free agency this summer for his floor-spacing abilities, but he’s off to a slow start this season, averaging 3.3 PPG on 31% shooting from the floor, including 28.6% shooting from the three-point line on 1.8 attempts per game.
  • Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. has been having trouble connecting on his shots over the past two games, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Porter has scored a combined 15 total points on 5-of-23 shooting from the field. “We need Michael,” head coach Michael Malone said. “While [MVP center Nikola Jokic] is not here, we have to find ways to try to get Michael some easy ones, and I think Michael’s gotta help himself at the same time. … Make or miss, continue to play hard, compete and fight.”

Wolves Notes: Russell, Gobert, Prince, Edwards

The trade that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves has turned into a huge mistake, contends Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Minnesota was looking for more size and scoring in its backcourt when it sent Andrew Wiggins and a pair of draft picks — one of which became Jonathan Kuminga — to Golden State in exchange for Russell and two other players at the 2020 trade deadline. Wiggins wound up as a vital cog in the Warriors’ title team, while Russell continues to frustrate Wolves fans, Souhan states.

The latest embarrassing incident came in the first half of tonight’s loss to the Suns when Russell didn’t realize he was supposed to be on the court. Minnesota played a four-on-five possession that resulted in a Phoenix three-pointer. Souhan notes that Russell came into the game ranked 211th overall in Player Efficiency Rating and 42nd among point guards in a 30-team league.

After being benched in the playoff series against Memphis, Russell hasn’t looked any different this season, according to Souhan. He observes that the Wolves often look uncertain on the court, which shouldn’t happen to a team with a veteran point guard.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves are still working out a role on offense for Rudy Gobert, who returned tonight after missing two games while in the health and safety protocols, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Gobert’s new teammates, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns, have been trying to make sure he gets enough touches. “The guys have been great looking for me, especially KAT,” Gobert said. “I can tell he’s been doing a lot of effort hitting me on the duck-ins, hitting me on the lobs. I think that’s the way we’re going to play if we want to be a great offensive team, be able to space for each other, move the ball, have the ball not stick.”
  • Veteran forward Taurean Prince has become a locker room leader for the Wolves and he credits the influence of former teammate Patrick Beverley, particularly in film sessions, Hine adds. “He really taught me how to break down film and really process it quicker,” Prince said. “That’s helped me be in more of the right spots defensively. So I appreciate him for that. Now I’m also able to … put it in a way to where other guys understand it as well, and they’re maybe thinking two or three steps ahead.”
  • After Monday’s loss to the Knicks, Anthony Edwards expressed concerns that the Wolves are getting a reputation for being soft, Hine states in a separate story. “It’s hard, man,” Edwards said. “I don’t know, man. We’re going to try to figure it out, because that’s what it looks like right now. That’s what teams are saying, from the looks of it. They’re coming out like, ‘We’re going to punk them.’ That’s what’s going on.”

Wolves Notes: Russell, Edwards, Starting Lineup

Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell had an uneven performance during last season’s playoffs and that has continued with an inconsistent run through eight games in 2022/23, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. While Russell’s counting stats look solid — he’s averaging 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals — his shooting splits of .394/.279/.783 leave a lot to be desired.

If the Wolves aren’t playing better after 20 games (they’re currently 4-4), Rand believes Russell could be the odd man out of the starting lineup, since he’s the only player among the group the franchise isn’t committed to long term. The 26-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, so it’s a big year for him.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Third-year wing Anthony Edwards has lacked his usual explosiveness this season, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, who notes that Edwards has yet to dunk thus far in 2022/23. The 21-year-old recorded 128 dunks in 144 games over his first two seasons, per Basketball-Reference. Edwards gained weight in an effort to add muscle over the summer, but he recognized the added weight was impacting his leaping ability so he’s been working on conditioning, Hine notes. “I’m just waiting for my legs to get under me 100 percent and I’ll be all right,” said Edwards, who added that he’d dropped nine pounds and is now at 230.
  • The starting lineup of Russell, Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert has struggled mightily to open the season, posting a minus-5.3 net rating and scoring an abysmal 97.4 points per 100 possessions, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The unit didn’t get much playing time together during the preseason, as Towns was sidelined for much of it with an infection and Gobert rested some after competing in EuroBasket for France, so head coach Chris Finch has been giving them extra run in an effort to get the five-man group more comfortable with each other, Krawczynski writes. Finch admits they haven’t made much progress to this point. “Well there hasn’t really been a whole lot of growth with that unit just yet,” Finch said. “So yeah, just working on it, keep focusing on it.”
  • In a similar story for The Star Tribune, Hine says that the starters could look to the bench as an example of how to play together and not force so many shots. “They’re sharing the ball,” Edwards said of the second unit. “They don’t care who scores. That’s the biggest thing. They don’t care who score. They all want to see each other shine in that second group.”

Timberwolves Notes: Beverley, Nowell, Reid, Edwards

Patrick Beverley‘s appearance in Minnesota Friday as a member of the Lakers was a reminder that the Timberwolves miss their vocal leader from last season, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Wolves coach Chris Finch called Beverley a “tone setter” who held teammates accountable and brought a winning attitude to a franchise with little history of playoff success.

Beverley, who was traded to Utah and then L.A. during the offseason, hasn’t been able to transfer those qualities to his new team, which already has a hierarchy in place. The Lakers remain winless and Beverley is averaging 5.4 PPG while shooting a miserable 26.1% from the field and 17.6% from three-point range.

“We had a blast this past year,” Beverley said of his time in Minnesota. “A lot of good memories. Coming in from a halfway empty house at the beginning of the season and full crowd every time we step on the floor. The fans have been great. It’s a second home for me, for sure.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves’ trade for Rudy Gobert created an opportunity for Jaylen Nowell, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Nowell has taken over the backup shooting guard role formerly occupied by Malik Beasley and is averaging 14.5 PPG through the team’s first six games. “[There was] doubt, frustration, irritation,” Nowell said of his first three NBA seasons. “All type of things. But when you stick with it, and you just continue to work, good things will happen to those who work and continue to stay positive-minded.”
  • The Wolves aren’t close to signing Nowell to an extension, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News confirmed on his latest podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). A report this week indicated that the team had extension talks with Nowell and Naz Reid, but Wolfson believes Reid is more likely to receive an extension at this point. Both players will be extension-eligible through the end of June.
  • Anthony Edwards should concentrate more on driving to the basket in late-game situations than firing up three-pointers, contends Patrick Reusse of The Star Tribune. Edwards is shooting 35.3% from long distance, but Reusse notes that his success rate with the game on the line hasn’t been good.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Gobert, Towns, Simons, Lillard

The star-studded Timberwolves have stumbled out of the gate to begin the 2022/23 NBA season, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The 2-2 Wolves have now dropped games against the Jazz and Spurs in what had been projected as a fairly easy opening stretch for a team that reshaped its roster by adding former Utah All-Star center Rudy Gobert in a blockbuster deal this summer.

Krawczynski observes that, in the Wolves’ third home game of the year against San Antonio, they looked particularly listless defensively, star shooting guard Anthony Edwards appeared disengaged on offense, Gobert struggled to hold onto rebounds, and the club was playing through boos from the Target Center crowd in Minneapolis. Gobert posited after the game that the club needed to improve its communication on the floor.

“It doesn’t take much energy to talk,” Gobert offered. “You just gotta want to do it. We’re not there yet. Hopefully, you know, we’re gonna get there soon, and we’re gonna learn.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • One big issue for the Timberwolves‘ new jumbo-sized starting lineup has been its transition defense, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Starting two nominal centers in the frontcourt, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, could be part of the trouble. Hines notes that the team is permitting opposing clubs to score 21 fast-break points per game, which is the worst such average in the NBA. “We have to understand what our flaws are and how we have to cover them,” head coach Chris Finch acknowledged. “Such as, we may not be the fastest of foot from end line to end line, but we’ve got to make a better effort.” 
  • A huge sharpshooting night for Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons on Monday serves as an indicator that Portland’s hot 4-0 start to the 2022/23 season has nearly as much to do with the newly-revamped club’s role players as it does with the constant brilliance of point guard Damian Lillard, opines Jason Quick of The Athletic. Simons connected on his first eight straight shots, which included six triples, to help Portland blow out the Nuggets 135-110.
  • Lillard has been a big part of the team’s undefeated start. As such, the Trail Blazers guard has taken an early leap in the NBA’s MVP race, per Cole Huff of The Athletic. His odds have risen from +6600 to +2500.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Braun, Jokic, Vanderbilt, Beasley

The 1-1 Timberwolves are continuing to adjust to their new-look roster as the 2022/23 season gets going, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“The smaller we go, the better it is for me,” star Minnesota shooting guard Anthony Edwards said after the team’s 132-126 overtime loss to the rebuilding Jazz Friday night. Given that the team’s highest-paid players are seven-foot frontcourt starters Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Krawczynski notes that this is a loaded statement.

“I have to get him the ball more,” head coach Chris Finch said of Edwards. “We ran a couple things to get the ball in his hands. And then, again, the ball got sticky. We tried to play through KAT there. But he’s got to get some looks. That’s on me.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets rookie shooting Christian Braun seems to be carving out a solid bench role already, having logged a productive 23 minutes as a reserve for the Warriors, writes Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. The 21-year-old Braun, selected out of Kansas in this year’s draft with the No. 21 pick, has emerged as a multi-faceted defender, and could prove to be a vital role player for a team with championship aspirations.
  • Reigning two-time Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic, one of the league’s best passers, looks set to thrive surrounded by sharpshooting colleagues, notes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Braun raved about the depths of the center’s hoops knowledge. “Jok is unbelievable,” Caldwell-Pope said. Braun added: “You try to learn from him because he knows your spot probably better than you do.”
  • Jazz role players Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley have already been through their share of rebuilds, and hope to use their wealth of experience to help guide the youth movement in Utah, writes Sarah Todd of Deseret News. “Just trying to bring those same qualities and pretty much we’re in the same boat, trying to rebuild and establish a culture and create winning habits,” Vanderbilt said. “[W]e’ve been on three programs [with the Nuggets and the Timberwolves] that before we got there they weren’t playoff contending teams. “We ended up helping be a part of rebuilds and being a part of changing culture. This is not new for us.”

And-Ones: Breakout Candidates, Wembanyama, Thornwell

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 20 NBA executives on their top three breakout candidates for the 2022/23 season and found that Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey was the most popular pick. While I’d argue that last season represented a breakout year for Maxey, some executives have far higher expectations for him going forward.

“Maxey’s going to be better than James Harden,” one general manager said to Scotto. “He just keeps getting better and better and will be a huge reason why they have success this season.”

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Magic forward Franz Wagner, and Rockets guard Jalen Green were among the other popular breakout picks, based on the responses Scotto got from executives. Interestingly, Warriors big man James Wiseman and Pistons forward/center Marvin Bagley III were each picked as this year’s top breakout candidate by one GM.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In his latest look at the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class, David Aldridge of The Athletic passes along several entertaining quotes from NBA executives, including one Eastern Conference exec’s response to whether Scoot Henderson could surpass Victor Wembanyama as next year’s No. 1 pick: “Scoot’s good, but, no. Short of Wembanyama having murdered somebody, there’s just no way.”
  • Veteran guard Sindarius Thornwell has signed with Frutti Extra Bursasport, the Turkish team announced this week (via Twitter). Thornwell has appeared in 160 total NBA games and played for New Orleans and Atlanta in 2020/21, but wasn’t in the league last season.
  • Longtime NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated over 1,100 games, including one in the 2020 NBA Finals, passed away on Thursday after a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to his family (story via

Northwest Notes: SGA, Dort, K. Williams, Wolves, Edwards, Jazz

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who missed the team’s entire six-game preseason schedule due to Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, is on track to be available for the regular season opener on Wednesday in Minnesota, head coach Mark Daigneault told reporters on Sunday (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman).

It’s good news for the Thunder and for Gilgeous-Alexander, who has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons because of injuries, including the last 10 games of 2021/22 due to a right ankle issue.

Luguentz Dort (left quad contusion) and Kenrich Williams (right groin strain) also should be available for the Thunder in the first game of the regular season, Daigneault said today (Twitter link via Mussatto).

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • With Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns sharing the court on the first time in Friday’s preseason finale, the Timberwolves looked very much like a group that had yet to play together, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who writes that “the lane was clogged, the ball movement was non-existent and shots were clanking.” However, as Krawczynski outlines, the Wolves know integrating Gobert and the other new players on the roster will take some time and weren’t discouraged by the early returns. “I thought it was good at times, bad at times,” Gobert said after the game. “But I think that’s the fun of it.”
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes an in-depth look at Anthony Edwards‘ intense offseason training regimen and explores how that work might translate to the court in the Timberwolves guard’s third NBA season. While much of the focus will be on Gobert’s impact, Edwards’ ability to continue taking his game to new levels may determine how high Minnesota’s ceiling rises.
  • The Jazz issued a press release on Friday announces several new hires and promotions within the team’s basketball operations department. Most notably, Bart Taylor was named Utah’s vice president of player personnel, while Marquis Newman‘s is now director of pro personnel for the Jazz and general manager of the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s G League affiliate.

Wolves Pick Up 2023/24 Options On Edwards, McDaniels

OCTOBER 15: The Timberwolves have officially exercised their options on Edwards and McDaniels, the team announced in a press release.

OCTOBER 14: The Timberwolves are picking up their 2023/24 team options on Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The news was expected, since both players are key members of a rising Minnesota squad. Edwards will earn $13,534,817 in his fourth season, while McDaniels will make $3,901,399.

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft, Edwards had a strong rookie season and was even better in year two, improving his numbers across the board to the tune of 21.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.5 SPG on .441/.357/.786 shooting in 72 games (34.3 MPG). The 21-year-old wing is hoping to make big strides on the defensive end this season.

McDaniels, who just turned 22 a couple of weeks ago, was the No. 28 overall pick of the 2020 draft. The 6’9″ forward is a long, athletic and versatile defender who averaged 9.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 0.8 BPG on .460/.317/.803 shooting in 70 games (31 starts, 25.8 MPG) last season. He has reportedly been named the starting small forward to open 2022/23.

Minnesota exercising the fourth-year options makes both players eligible for rookie scale extensions next summer, with Edwards basically a lock to receive a maximum-salary deal.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Lillard, Edwards, Holmgren

Veterans Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan, Ish Smith and Bruce Brown are providing the Nuggets with energy and a level of comfort during training camp, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is laid back, which allows the more boisterous personalities of Green and Jordan to stand out, Singer notes.

Brown said he feels more at home in Denver than he did during last season’s drama-filled campaign with a big market club in Brooklyn.

I’m more laid back, chill,” Brown said. “I like to be in the house with my dog and my people. Obviously, New York gets a lot of attention, a lot of media attention. That wasn’t for me, but I love my time with those guys.”

According to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter links), Brown has been playing point guard with the second unit, while Zeke Nnaji has been the backup center. That’s a bit of a change for both players — Brown is a swiss army knife type who has played multiple positions, but mostly on the wing, while Nnaji primarily played power forward in the past. Nnaji has performed well in camp thus far, Wind adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Damian Lillard is just 531 points shy of surpassing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler to become the Trail Blazers‘ all-time leading scorer. Lillard says it’s an accomplishment he doesn’t take lightly. “This feat would mean a lot to me,” Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “Just the respect I have for the organization and for Clyde and how great of a player he was. I think it shows just how productive I’ve been throughout my career. It would truly be an honor.”
  • Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards is hoping to make big strides on the defensive end in 2022/23, saying that because he’ll be guarding top players more often, he’ll be “salty” to not make an All-Defensive team, as Wolves reporter Dane Moore relays (via Twitter). The former No. 1 overall pick will play a huge part in Minnesota’s standing in the West this season.
  • This year’s No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, will miss the entire season for the Thunder with a foot injury, but he’s still learning about the NBA while recovering, according to Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press. “What I’m trying to do right now is just kind of soak up all the knowledge of how things are done around here, how they’re going to be done going forward,” Holmgren said. “So when I’m ready to get get back in there, I can just kind of seamlessly plug myself in.”