NBA Playoffs: Anthony Edwards is rapidly becoming the next face of the NBA

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Four
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Four / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Even if it doesn’t completely “come out of nowhere,” a rise towards superstardom is hard to ignore. This may be especially true for Western Conference teams that have had to watch Anthony Edwards ball out to begin the NBA Playoffs. The Atlanta native averaged 31 points, 6.3 assists, and 8 rebounds as his Minnesota Timberwolves swept the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s the face of the league,” teammate Karl-Anthony Towns told the Athletic. “He hates when I say it, but it’s true. Like I said, ‘Future so bright, got to put the sunglasses on.’”

Edwards has been ascending since he entered the association, but this latest set of showings has brought the 22-year old into the national spotlight. He scored 40 points in Minnesota’s series-clinching Game 4 victory over Phoenix with the help of seven makes from range and a 7-10 night at the charity stripe.

Anthony Edwards is rapidly becoming the next face of the NBA.

The two-time All-Star out-dueled Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, and Devin Booker in the first round bout. Regardless of the fact that Phoenix never seemed to constantly click, and dealt with injuries during the season, defeating such a unit handily is no small feat. The Suns’ three main weapons can all score if given the slightest amount of space.

“He’s my favorite player to watch,” Durant said of Edwards after Sunday’s game. “He’s just grown so much since coming in the league. At 22, his love for the game shines so bright. That’s one of the reasons why I like him the most because he just loves basketball and is grateful to be in this position.”

Minnesota held Phoenix under 100 points twice in the set, and even in the games where scoring was not necessarily an issue, Edwards was able to step up his game and rise to the occasion.

“When he plays, makes the right play,” Minnesota assistant coach Micah Nori told the Athletic. “And they know he cares, not only about himself but the team, he’s done a good job of stepping up in that regard.”

With his 6’4, 225lb frame, Edwards has the sort of athleticism that can impact the game at any moment. He set career highs in free throw percentage and assists per game this season, making his offensive game more versatile. Defensively, he finished the campaign with the 14th best individual defensive rating in the league.

These strides are aiding Edwards’ play in the tournament, and while his ceiling is not yet known, it’s evident that he’s not finished growing. The Timberwolves path through the Western Conference will not get any easier from here, but the former first overall pick has illustrated a tenacity that could serve the group well as the playoffs heat up.