MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves were predictably irked when Anthony Edwards was not picked for the NBA All-Star Game, a belief in his worthiness that had plenty of backing around the league.
As for Edwards, well, he said he wasn’t surprised or disappointed. His laid-back, aw-shucks vibe — one of many reasons why the third-year guard has endeared himself to the Timberwolves and their fans — was in full effect after the reserves were announced Thursday night.
“I’m just happy for the guys that got in,” Edwards said Friday at the team’s shootaround prior to playing Orlando. “I didn’t even watch it. I knew I wasn’t going to get in.”
With only 12 spots per conference in this increasingly star-driven league, there will never not be an All-Star team without a list of legitimate snubs.
Edwards name-dropped Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox as one peer he thought should’ve made it. Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver’s Aaron Gordon were among the strong Western Conference candidates for the reserve pool selected by the coaches.
“I’m just never the one that’s selected for things like that, I feel like,” Edwards said. “I’ve got to go above and beyond. I will next year, so I ain’t tripping.”
Averaging 24.9 points entering the matchup with the Magic, Edwards is a top-20 scorer in the league. But his value to the Timberwolves has been immeasurable this winter, with three-time All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined since late November with a severe calf strain and the entire team still adjusting to newcomer Rudy Gobert’s unique skill set.
Edwards has emerged as the unquestionable go-to playmaker in clutch situations. He has made significant strides with his confidence and wisdom toward when to drive hard to the basket, when to catch and shoot from deep and when to keep the ball moving to a teammate.
“Just being able to see them get going is pretty awesome to watch,” said Edwards, who’s averaging a career-best 4.6 assists.
Defensively, Edwards has improved his awareness, anticipation and communication. He’s averaging 1.7 steals, another high as a pro.
He’s also remarkably durable in the age of load management, one of only two top-25 scorers in the league along with New York’s Julius Randle who has played in every game.
“I just love playing basketball, so anytime I can go out there and play at 7, I’m ready,” he said.
Then there’s his leadership, the trait that transcends his age-21 experience and the rest of the Timberwolves quickly mention when asked about his biggest impact.
“We follow him. By example, physically, emotionally, however you can in the league, it’s easy for our guys to jump on the train and ride it,” said guard D’Angelo Russell, from whom Edwards has overtaken the primary ballhandling responsibilities.
His high-road reaction to the All-Star exclusion might be the best example of all of this maturity. His teammates were clearly bothered by it a lot more than he was.
“I started the season off bad, so I kind of knew I wasn’t going to be an All-Star,” Edwards said, later adding: “As long as we go to the playoffs, I don’t care.”