LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards?
The question led to long periods of hand-wringing in the buildup to the NBA Draft last November. Should the Minnesota Timberwolves select the long, playmaking point guard or the powerful wing scorer? They went with Edwards, surely ending the long debate.
Sports talkers never seem to die, and the Edwards/Ball debate has shifted from “Who should go No. 1?” to “Who is the Rookie of the Year?”
The Vegas oddsmakers suggest it’s Ball. It’s easy to see why, given the point guard’s scintillating start and sustained success throughout the season, aside from a period of games he missed because of injury. Ball has been the talk of national media members — aka award voters — for much of the year. Yes, Ball is likely to win that award.
This fact has seemed to frustrate those who have watched Edwards’ ascension over the second half of the season.
Doesn’t anyone notice how Edwards is filling up stat sheets, scoring at will against strong defenders by bullying his way to the hoop or knocking down 3-pointers? Do people see the way Edwards is diving into passing lanes to nab steals, or his increased rebounding? How he’s helped inspire Minnesota’s mini-resurgence and brought life and joy back to the Timberwolves?
Quite frankly, who cares?
First off, a vote for Ball isn’t an indictment of Edwards. Both players have been fantastic and appear headed for incredible careers.
Secondly, whether media members recognize Edwards’ success isn’t all that important. It’s not as though only those who win Rookie of the Year are destined for greatness. Zion Williamson didn’t win it just last year, and he’s widely considered one of the game’s brightest young stars. Tyreke Evans was Rookie of the Year in Steph Curry’s rookie season.
“I don’t really care about earning anybody’s respect. I don’t want nobody to respect me. I want them to think what they was thinking before I got drafted and when I got drafted,” Edwards said. “I don’t really be caring about that. I just want to go out and win and have fun and play basketball.”
Why would it matter what voters think, when the likes of Paul George and Ja Morant have played against Edwards recently and declared Edwards to be a star in the making.
What matters is not whether Edwards wins some award no one will remember, much less care about, three years from now. What matters is what people here see — a phenomenal athlete who continues to expand his game and improve as the season goes on. Who relishes the big moment in the fourth quarter of games. Who can score with relative ease in various ways, no matter the defense. Who accepts tough coaching and uses it to drive his growth. Whose success inspires not only a previously beaten-down fanbase, but even his teammates and coaches. Who makes you think, for the first time in a long time, there may legitimately be better days ahead for the Timberwolves.
The question here is no longer “LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards?”
Instead, it’s “just how high can Anthony Edwards fly?”
The best part is, no one yet knows the answer.