The Minnesota Timberwolves have surprised many people by getting out to the best record in the Western Conference, and star guard Anthony Edwards has been leading the charge.
He had a sensational highlight play in Thursday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies where he threw the basketball off the backboard to himself for a dunk, which led ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to compare him to three legendary guards, including late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Stephen A Smith compares Anthony Edwards to Vince Carter Kobe Bryant & Michael Jordan on First Take pic.twitter.com/t1IX5OpTa3
— 2Cool2Blog (@2Cool2Blog) January 19, 2024
“Right now, when I see Anthony Edwards, I see in the making, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, M.J.,” said Smith. “… Anthony Edwards, you hear what I’m sayin’ to ya’ll. He is special. He ain’t there yet in terms of the names I mentioned, but he is coming.
Coming into Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Edwards was averaging 26.1 points and 5.0 assists a game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from behind the 3-point line. The former No. 1 overall draft pick has been gradually bumping up his numbers with each season, and he is now pounding on the front door of superstardom.
Like Bryant, Edwards is a show-stopping slasher and dunker who can hit from the perimeter. He is also one of the most confident players in the NBA, and shortly after entering the league, he made a bold proclamation about his ultimate goal as a basketball player which was Bryant-esque.
"I just want to be the best player to ever play basketball."
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) November 19, 2020
What makes Edwards even more special is his defensive ability. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he can lock down a number of opponents and make life difficult for them.
Last season, Minnesota won just 42 games and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Many criticized its decision to give up a king’s ransom for center Rudy Gobert the previous summer, especially since he didn’t seem to fit well with big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
But this season, that fit seems to have improved, and it has helped the team establish the top defensive rating in the league.
Bryant, of course, was one of the truly iconic athletes in the history of sports. He spent all 20 of his seasons with the Lakers and helped lead them to five world titles while also winning two NBA Finals MVP and two scoring titles. His overdeveloped set of skills, work ethic, dedication and will to win became legendary over the years.
Many of today’s players have cited Bryant as not only an inspiration but also as a mentor of sorts.