Edwards: “Playing at the WC changed my perspective about everything”

MINNEAPOLIS (USA) – USA star Anthony Edwards continues to rise to newer heights with each passing game, even as the stakes have gotten higher and higher in the NBA Playoffs.

In the Timberwolves’ recent Game 1 win against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, “Antman” did it again as he poured in a personal playoff career-high of 43 points. As he won’t turn 23 years old until later in August this year, he also became just the second player 22 years old or younger to score at least 40 points in back-to-back playoff games – since Kobe Bryant.

When questioned about “what has gotten into him” during this phenomenal stretch, Edwards didn’t hesitate to credit his time with USA basketball last year:

“… I put in work this summer,” said Edwards. “Big shout out to the USA team, it got me ready for this season and I appreciate that.”

Edwards’ rise should not be something that catches USA basketball fans off-guard, especially those that were following closely ever since the team began preparing for the World Cup last year. There were signs and those who say it were not holding back.

“Anthony Edwards, that’s gonna be a household name,” USA assistant coach Erik Spoelstra said last August, as per The Athletic. “(Maybe) it already is.”

The theme of Edwards’ World Cup and USAB experience fueling his performance and the Wolves’ success this season is a recurring one. He’s consistently made a point to credit that experience in Manila throughout the past months.


Earlier in January, when asked why his outstanding play and talent have helped his Minnesota Timberwolves become one of the best teams in the NBA this season:

“I think playing in the USA (team), the World Cup this summer,” Edwards said.

“I think that changed my perspective about everything, being able to play with your team, playing within the game and not just try to play isolation ball all day, playing within a system. And Finchy (Minnesota coach Chris Finch) does a great job of making sure I stay within the system.”

Edwards has always been an exceptional talent, a player willing to go hard at any defender.

But basketball is a team game and his approach this season to play within the system is paying off for Minnesota. This season, he averaged 25.9 points and 5.1 assists per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 83.6 percent from the charity stripe  – all career highs.

Named to the All-Star Five at the World Cup after his dazzling displays, Edwards headed to his second NBA All-Star Game and so, too, did Karl Anthony Towns, another Timberwolves player that played at the World Cup.

Karl Anthony Towns played big minutes in a major international tournament for the first time and helped the Dominican Republic top Group A before finishing 14th out of the 32 teams.

Tyrese Haliburton played for the USA at the Word Cup

Edwards’ USA teammate, Tyrese Haliburton, says the World Cup fueled his hunger to become a better player and to become a winner. And he is clearly playing the best basketball of his life since the beginning of the NBA season (20.1 points and the league-best 10.9 assists per game).

“Still not over it. It’s frustrating,” Haliburton told The Athletic of the USA’s fourth-place finish. “Everybody was mad, of course, but it’s like, for me, I haven’t won since like my sophomore year in college (at Iowa State). So it’s just like really opened my eyes to some real stuff in my life, honestly. It was like, ‘I got to change my habits and certain things to be tired of losing.’ I’m not a loser, it’s not what I do. And I’m not going to let that continue to be what I am.

“So everybody keeps asking, ‘What are your individual goals this year?’ I just want to win, like, I’m tired of losing. Been frustrating the last couple of years, but I think that USA stuff kind of really opened my eyes. I can’t continue to do this in my life.”

Earlier this season, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti explained how playing at the World Cup helped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander become a better player. The Canadian star had arguably the best season of his career (30.1 points, 6.2 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the field).

Many stars have cited FIBA basketball as making them better players for their NBA teams.

– Luka Doncic

Numerous others have done so over the years, including All-Stars like Luka Doncic of Slovenia, Lauri Markkanen of Finland, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece and Nikola Jokic of Serbia.

“European basketball is more team basketball, more tactical,” Doncic said after EuroBasket 2022.

Markkanen’s play at the same event for Finland was an eye-opener for Jazz head coach Will Hardy, who gained an appreciation for his all-round skill set.

“The number of times that he got the rebound and just pushed it for them,” Hardy said. “He showed a comfort level with the ball and I hadn’t really seen that with him in the places he had been … He’s not just a catch-and-shoot player. He’s not just a screener. He’s not just a guy that moves around off ball screens. He does all those things. He’s good in transition…

“It’s a luxury as a coach for sure to have a guy that you can really try to be creative with.”

Jokic improved his game at EuroBasket 2022.

“I think you really need to have quick thinking,” he said. “In the NBA, if you go by the guy, you can see the help is coming. In Europe, help is always there. So, you need to think and play ahead.”

Jokic played for Serbia at EuroBasket 2022 and led Denver to their first title the following season

For Antetokounmpo, he was just happy that he’d represented his country at the EuroBasket.

“Made me fall in love with basketball again,” he said on his Instagram account.

Antetokounmpo represented Greece at FIBA EuroBasket 2022

In the end, star players get different rewards by playing international basketball. What is certain is that the experience benefits them all.



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