Is Anthony Edwards worth taking with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft?

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Anthony Edwards is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, but is he worthy of the No. 1 pick? (Photo: Stephen Lew/KNBR)

Coming into the 2020 college basketball season, there were two names fans began to hear over and over again. One was James Wiseman, the athletic big man from Memphis who was considered the preseason favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft come June.

The other? Anthony Edwards, a sculpted, bouncy athletic specimen who signed at a football school and looked like he could have been the team’s star running back instead of its star shooting guard.

At 6-5, 225 pounds, the Georgia freshman has an NBA build and the type of burgeoning athleticism that might remind you of a young Russell Westbrook. He’s explosive, track-star quick, and can make a highlight out of anything. He’s the most ballyhooed Bulldogs basketball player since Dominique Wilkins, and some of his windmill throwdowns might remind fans in the Peach state of The Human Highlight Reel.

Edwards’ potential just might make his the first name called in the draft this summer, but is there anything to worry about with this 18-year-old kid’s game?

Well, for one, there’s his jump shot. Edwards has a solid, repeatable motion and should develop into a reliable three-point shooter at the next level, but he did shoot just 29.4 percent from three as a freshman. He struggled down the stretch, finishing with three clunkers: 3-for-10 against Florida, 6-for-22 at LSU and 2-for-10 in the SEC tournament against Ole Miss. He shot a combined 2-for-21 from three in those last two games, which certainly contributed to the low number for the season.

But, of course, he had big games too– including hanging 32 at Florida (the World’s Largest Indoor Cocktail Party?) and most impressively, 37 against Michigan State in Maui.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t blessed with a whole lot of talent around him, it’s a little concerning that Edwards’ Bulldogs finished second-to-last in the SEC (5-13) and finished at 16-16 overall. There aren’t many NBA stars who couldn’t lift their college teams out of the basement– particularly in a mediocre conference like the SEC. Head coach Tom Crean, who landed a coup on Kentucky when he signed Edwards, has to take some of the blame for the rest of his class, and the Bulldogs didn’t look any different than they’ve looked for the past, oh, 24 years.

With all that said, Edwards–at 18-years old– looked light years ahead of his competition at times, and showcased an NBA-ready game. He’s comfortable taking on a defender one-on-one, which he’ll need to do at the next level, and he’s got an assortment of moves made for the league, including a filthy stepback J. He could go M.I.A. at times, and you no doubt would have liked to have seen him take over games a little bit more, but for a player with his kind of athleticism and confidence, that’s not too much of a worry right now.

Does Anthony Edwards have the potential to become a star at the next level? Sure. He’s got many of the qualities you’d look for in a future stud. Is he a sure thing? Not based on what he showed in his lone season at Georgia.

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