“He’s, unquestionably, the guy,”
That is how coach Steve Kerr described Anthony Edwards’ role this summer on Team USA at the World Cup, where Edwards led the team in scoring.
That is not what Kerr thought of Edwards’ game before the 2020 NBA Draft. The Warriors had the No. 2 pick in that draft and worked out Edwards (who was eventually taken No. 1 by the Timberwolves), and Edwards remembers harsh words from Kerr that helped put him on a different path. Here is what Edwards said during Timberwolves media day about Kerr telling him during a workout that he wasn’t working hard enough, via Jamal Collier of ESPN.
“I thought I was working hard,” Edwards said at Timberwolves media day on Thursday. “When he came, I was going through drills and he kept stopping them, like, ‘That’s all you got? That’s all you got?’ And I’m like, ‘Bruh, I’m going hard as you want me to go. What you want me to do? I’m sweating crazy.'”
Edwards joined Kerr and Bob Myers, then the Warriors team president, for dinner later that evening, where they reiterated the same message, including telling Edwards if they had the No. 1 overall selection, they would not have drafted him…
“He’s like, ‘Man, you’ve got to see Steph [Curry], KD and Klay [Thompson] work out,” Edwards said. “They still was continuously telling me, ‘You didn’t work hard enough. If we had the No. 1 pick, we wouldn’t take you.’ And I was just like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy.'”
That sounds like a coach (and former player) who knows how to light a fire under a potential star. Edwards admitted as much, saying on the way back to the hotel after dinner that night, he was telling his trainer they had to figure out how he could do more.
The Timberwolves drafted Edwards No. 1 and the Warriors took James Wiseman No. 2.
Kerr, more inadvertently, lit a fire under Edwards again this summer. Coming into USA Basketball training camp, Kerr pictured Edwards as the sixth man on Team USA, filling what he called the “Dwayne Wade” role as a scorer unleashed off the bench. Edwards wanted no part of that, saying “There is no Kobe on this team” (in reference to Wade’s bench role) and then went on not only to prove he should start but was the best player on the roster.
Edwards looks poised for a breakout season for the Timberwolves, which will make things interesting in Minnesota. After trading so much to get Rudy Gobert to form a twin towers front line with Karl-Anthony Towns, how will coach Chris Finch work things out so this team can pivot to Edwards as their star and best player?
All because Kerr helped put Edwards on this path.