San Antonio Spurs Draft: Anthony Edwards is worth trading up for
By Damien Bartonek
The San Antonio Spurs should consider trading up for Anthony Edwards
2019-2020 SEC Freshman of the year Anthony Edwards has climbed up draft boards from minute number one of this year’s college basketball season. With a freshman year in the books that is full of conference accolades, Edward’s decision to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft was no surprise. What would be a surprise is if the San Antonio Spurs found a way to bring him to Texas.
In a draft class stacked with guards, his ability to shine the brightest amongst his peers comes with good reason. Many believe Edwards will be the NBA’s next big thing. With comparisons to some NBA greats and rising young players like Dwayne Wade, Donovan Mitchell, and some solidified scoring machines like Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, Anthony’s game is one that makes haters into believers instantly.
Virtually no NBA Mock Draft has Anthony Edwards falling past pick number three, so many teams that will be interested will have no choice but to trade up for the illustrious collegiate shooting guard.
One team that should look into a draft-day trade for the services of the 19-year-old prodigy is none other than our Spurs. Question marks are soaring involving the Alamo City’s quest back to contention, there would be no better way to jumpstart a re-tool to contention like selecting the best shooting guard in this class.
While many may have their reservations about making such a steep investment in the 19-year-old Georgia Bulldog, the potential reward outweighs the risk by a mile. San Antonio should look into acquiring Anthony Edwards in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Next: Offensive Upside
Anthony Edwards offense can kick start the San Antonio Spurs
While the efficiency numbers aren’t mind-blowing, the overall offensive arsenal from the 19-year-old is. There’s still room to grow here, but the potential you see game in and game out excites you about the future for this kid. The main issue here is that Edwards doesn’t always play to his strengths and the God-given body traits he has.
But, his game truly is versatile in terms of his ways of scoring the basketball. One of the best off the bounce scorers in this year’s draft, Edwards is a true three-level scorer.
One of his best performances from this past season was against Michigan State. Edwards put on an offensive display, from passing to shooting and scoring.
I enjoy watching Anthony Edwards, so while COD is downloading the new map pack (yes I am behind) I decided to pull some of my favorite plays from this young man during this game against Michigan State.
Peep the bounce pass. pic.twitter.com/FdIdStWtBM
— Damienひ (@DABartonek) February 18, 2020
The main aspect that is overlooked in his game, one that you see on the Michigan State tape is his ability to pass the basketball. He’s one of the best passers throughout every phase of the game like in transition, to the half-court, and even as a P&R ball-handler.
Despite not having great assist numbers, Edwards sets his teammates up for success throughout the plethora of offensive sets and plays ran at Georgia. As mentioned before, this Georgia team wasn’t the most talented. But, the number of open looks that weren’t cashed in off of Edward’s passing ability should not be overlooked. His game is unique offensively, as not only is he a skilled passer, but one of the most versatile and creative scorers in this draft.
The efficiency numbers are a bit lower than you’d hope for, but you see the potential here. After playing a season with a subpar supporting cast on the floor, his numbers being lower are more to him being a casualty of the best player on the team with minimal offensive contributions from his teammates.
His game is stronger than that, and you see that throughout the tape. With a tight ball handle, Edwards’s ability to score off the bounce is his bread and butter and one of the more consistent aspects of his game.
Coupled by being both a strong finisher and a much better mid-range shooter than advertised, Edwards shot nearly 51 percent from two this past season. At the rim, he finished at a 56 percent clip which makes him one of the more efficient and effective finishers in college basketball.
Next: Defensive Potential
Anthony Edwards would join a stacked San Antonio Spurs backcourt
Edwards’ defensive versatility had been on display throughout his freshman year. Standing 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan, Ant’s ability to defend positions one through three is a huge plus for any team looking to draft him. But, similarly to him on the offensive end, he doesn’t always play to his strengths and body traits.
As a man-to-man defender, Edwards has all the attributes and tape to show he is among the best in his class. His anticipation, ability to identify angles and ability to play physically on ball excites you for the upside on this end.
You couple that with the great footwork he’s shown along with the speed, agility, IQ, strength, and length, he’s truly a menace on that end as it pertains to on-ball defense, isolation defense when locked in. Edwards
As a team defender, he could use a bit of work as his consistency wasn’t all there throughout his tape. Also, as a pick and roll defender, he does a good job of getting through screens, but the consistency and at times effort isn’t always there.
As far as off-ball defense and his ability to close out and contest shots, the Georgia Bulldog does show stints of elite defensive play but there’s also a fair share of lackadaisical, lazy play in these aspects. While he does have the length, foot speed, and IQ to contest shots and be a better off-ball defender, the effort isn’t always there.
Edwards does play passing lanes very well, and will also give you his fair share of hustle and highlight plays on that end of the floor. He has a strong feel for the game on defense and does tend to lock in as the game goes down the stretch.
The biggest issue with Edwards on this end of the court is his effort and ability to lock in at all times on this end of the floor. At times he seems a bit checked out, maybe saving energy for the offensive end.
Nonetheless, there’s still a ton of room to grow here. With a much more engaging coaching staff and better talent around him, Edwards will continue to progress at the next level.
Next: Why the Spurs should trade up for him
Why the San Antonio Spurs should trade up for Anthony Edwards
19-year-old Anthony Edwards should be a piece San Antonio looks into trading up for. The combination of speed, size, athleticism, offensive, and defensive upside doesn’t come very often.
Considering he is a shooting guard, he instantly solves the puzzle for the two-guard spot in San Antonio. That position has haunted the Spurs for the past couple of seasons, and it instantly gets filled with the acquisition of Anthony Edwards in the 2020 NBA draft.
The fit here is marvelous. The Spurs need shot creators, shooting/scoring, and defensive versatility. With the selection of the Georgia native, you’re giving every bit of that and then some.
You get one of the best shot creators in the draft, that has loads and loads of upside offensively. Edward’s is already a very good ball-handler that can finish at the rack with ease. With many flashes of both Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal in his offensive repertoire, he’s also a very skilled jump shooter. He’s one that can create for himself and others, who also has an underrated passing bag.
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That fit offensively works beautifully. For a team that has unproven, inconsistent scorers in the backcourt, he juices that lineup immediately. The athleticism and length here with a potential Dejounte Murray, Anthony Edwards, Lonnie Walker one through three lineup is diverse, and frightening for opposing teams.
While the defensive issues may be more based on engaging and effort levels, these issues are much more common in younger players. With good coaching and better talent around him, the Spurs can confidently bank on Edwards being engaged on both ends throughout a full 82 game season as he develops and his game matures.
With such an early selection, many would believe that the Spurs should play him during game one of next season. But Edwards could also benefit much from staying with the Austin Spurs for his rookie campaign. There’s no rush to play Edwards, and a season “with the clipboard” could help his game mature and develop at a faster rate.
The upside with Edwards is through the roof, at the very worst you’ll get a solid sixth man who can give you a scoring punch off the bench. But at his peak, the San Antonio Spurs could potentially get an All-Star scoring option at the two-guard spot.