Anthony Edwards is averaging 23.5 points per game since we engaged in that stupid conversation about that no-fun Nate Duncan tweet reacting to the dunk of the year.
Before then, he was already being labeled as a bust in various forms, but recently, Edwards has emphatically shifted the conversation around his rookie year, even as he stars on the NBA’s worst team. If you reduce his recent play to a nine-game stretch, Edwards has averaged 26.4 points and 5.8 rebounds on 43-percent shooting, a substantial improvement from his season-tally. Even in his last five games, the efficiency is more geared in his favor, posting 30.6 points on field goal, three-point, and free-throw shooting splits of 48 / 39 / 70.
And there was also last night, where Edwards became the third-youngest player in NBA history to net a 40-point game, joining a club that includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. Simultaneously, he became the first teenager in NBA history with 100 points over a three-game stretch. And he, along with Karl-Anthony Towns, entered a short-list of teammates who have netted 40 points in the same game since 2010. Oh, and they also defeated the Western Conference’s third-ranked Phoenix Suns, 123-119, on the road.
Suddenly, LaMelo Ball might have a challenger for the Rookie of the Year award he’d been running away with all season long. He’ll ultimately still deserve the victory, especially when considering wins, which he has a lot more of than Edwards or Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento. But the fact that Edwards has played himself into this race, or even in any discussion, has been a remarkable mid-season turn of events.
Before his recent play, Edwards hadn’t been very close to Ball in scoring, even averaging just 14 points around the time of #thedunk. Now, he currently sits atop all rookies at 16.8 points per game, almost an entire point ahead of Ball at 16.0. His shooting splits, the first two, in particular, still leave plenty to be desired (39 / 31 / 78), but he’s also just 19 years old until August.
Dwyane Wade has long said that he sees Edwards potentially becoming better than him, and while that’s still unlikely given how exceptional Wade was, we’re starting to see what he has, and Edwards is doing it a lot earlier than Wade was.
Maybe next time he dunks on someone emphatically, we’ll just, you know, enjoy it? Especially since he’s good now? Or, since he’s only 19, we should say, good already?
For our (the societal our) sake, Edwards remains at least good throughout his career because he’s funny as hell.