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How Anthony Edwards can flip into this era’s Dwyane Wade

After wowing within the first spherical of the 2023 Playoffs and through the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the NBA world appears able to crown Anthony Edwards as the following two-way two-guard to be the face of the league.

His mixture of pace, athleticism, and hearth has led many to match him to new Corridor of Fame inductee Dwyane Wade. Nonetheless, regardless of their surface-level similarities, the final model of Edwards we noticed on an NBA ground nonetheless had a methods to go earlier than he might match the affect of one of many best guards to ever do it.

However now that there’s a new season upon us, Edwards has an opportunity to shut the hole and stay as much as this lofty comparability. Now the query turns into: what components of his recreation does he want to enhance to do it?


Final season, Edwards posted a career-high in True Capturing at 56.4 %. However even that mark was under the league common on this class (58.1 % in 2022-23). In reality, in none of Edwards’ first three seasons has he been capable of rank at or above the league common in effectivity.

Juxtapose this along with his predecessor, who got here into the league scoring barely above the league common earlier than settling in at about three or 4 proportion factors above the league common in true taking pictures for many of his prime (which often landed him someplace within the Seventieth-Eightieth percentile in scoring effectivity in these seasons).

One of many main causes for this disparity is Wade’s edge as a finisher. In accordance with Cleansing the Glass, Wade positioned within the 82nd percentile or larger in rim accuracy for his place yearly from 2004 to 2010. In the meantime, Edwards has by no means positioned larger than the 52nd percentile.

Nearly from the second he entered the affiliation, Wade had mastered the artwork of driving to and ending on the rim. He had the proper mixture of pace, energy, management, footwork, deal with, and imaginative and prescient. And he used all these attributes to turn into one of many greatest rim finishers the sport has ever seen.

Evaluate this with Edwards, who nonetheless must work on alternating speeds, figuring out when to go out of site visitors, and absorbing and ending by contact (as an alternative of falling over and hoping for a foul).

These minor wrinkles are what creates the variations of their ending numbers. The excellent news, although, is that younger ball handlers have a tendency to extend their ending percentages as they enter their mid-20s (an ideal instance of that is Donovan Mitchell).

The opposite factor dragging Edwards’ effectivity again is his free throw charges. He had a profession excessive in 2022-23 (7.1 FTA per 100 possessions), however that quantity pales compared to Wade’s greatest seasons (14.8 per 100 in 2006-07).

A few of this has to do with the management variable we hinted at a second in the past. As a common rule, the much less in management you look in your forays to the ring, the much less possible that referees will grant you a good whistle. It is sensible when you concentrate on it. How can a referee make certain that a defender impeded your path to the rim when you appeared uncontrolled within the first place?

With that mentioned, Wade additionally generated a ton of free throws along with his jumper. Wade was all the time a potent midrange shooter (significantly from the brief midrange). So, when he pump-faked in that space, defenders had been extra susceptible to take his bait, which gave him the possibility to lean into them and grift a foul. Like this:

Now, Wade didn’t reinvent the wheel with this tactic. Many nice midrange maestros (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan, and many others.) flip to this parlor trick to assist juice their free throw charges (and thereby their effectivity). However since Edwards is at the moment a poor midrange shooter (twenty ninth percentile amongst wings final season), this effectivity booster isn’t but accessible to him.


Together with being an awesome scorer, Wade was additionally a splendid passer. He used his downhill penetration to break down defenses and create the identical pictures for his teammates as he was for himself (i.e., pictures on the rim). From 2004-10, Wade tallied the eighth-most rim assists (1115 rim assists) of any participant throughout that stretch of time (per PBP Stats).

In accordance with Ben Taylor’s Passer Ranking metric (an estimate of a participant’s passing means on an ‘roughly’ 1-10 scale), Wade scored someplace between a 5.9 to an 8 on this measure yearly from 2004-10 (which put him someplace between the Eightieth and 97th percentile throughout these seasons). Edwards, alternatively, had a Passer Ranking of 4.8 in 2022-23 (fiftieth percentile). And he solely ranks 54th in rim assists within the years he’s been a member of the league (2020-23).

It’s necessary to notice, nevertheless, that Wade additionally began off sluggish as a facilitator, posting a 4.6 Passer Ranking (57th percentile in 2003-04) in his age-22 season (the 12 months Edwards is coming into proper now). On high of that, as is the case with ending, ball handlers additionally have a tendency to enhance as passers over time.

Taking part in Off the Ball

One of many widespread criticisms surrounding Edwards proper now’s that, whereas he has the instruments to be a superb off-ball participant on paper (he’s received slashing and catch-and-shoot capabilities), he usually seems disengaged when the ball isn’t in his hand. The numbers appear to again this up, as his effectivity decreases when he’s sharing the ground with different high-end offensive gamers like Karl-Anthony Cities, Mike Conley, and D’Angelo Russell.

Not taking part in properly alongside different good offensive gamers places a tough ceiling in your workforce’s total offensive effectivity. Final 12 months, the Minnesota Timberwolves had been in simply the 57th percentile in Offensive Ranking when Edwards was on the ground.

Throughout his well-known 2005-06 marketing campaign, Wade’s Miami Warmth had been within the ninety fifth percentile in Offensive Ranking when he was gracing the hardwood. A few of this has to do with Miami sporting superior personnel. However loads of their success was powered by Wade’s means to mix his environment friendly on-ball scoring and playmaking with equally dynamic off-ball offense.

He might by no means shoot from three and house the ground like Edwards. However what Wade lacked in 3-point taking pictures, he made up for in fixed movement and elite decisiveness. This subsequent sequence illustrates this sentiment completely.

Right here, he units a down display screen earlier than stepping as much as obtain the ball himself. From there, he initiates a decide and roll, instantly will get off the ball when he realizes nothing was there, flows proper again right into a dribble handoff motion, and hits the curler (sure, that’s Udonis Haslem) after he lures in two defenders.

The sooner you possibly can learn and react to what’s occurring round you, the simpler it’s so that you can play with different high-level offensive gamers. Wade was virtually the Jap Convention’s model of Manu Ginobili on this regard throughout his heyday. And on high of that, he was a nice cutter, closeout attacker, and connective tissue passer (all expertise Edwards can look to enhance on himself).


Edwards has the bodily wherewithal to be nearly as good of a fringe defender as anybody within the league. He’s received the scale and pace to engulf ball handlers on the level of assault, oftentimes taking opponents lunch cash extra often than even the baddest bullies at James Ok. Polk Center Faculty. And he’s additionally among the finest at his place at buying blocks (ninetieth percentile in 22-23) and steals (eighty fifth percentile). This isn’t not like Wade, who spent a substantial amount of his prime as among the finest on-ball stoppers and defensive playmakers of the mid-2000s.

The distinction between these two, at this level, lies of their off-ball consciousness. The ebook on Edwards final season was that he was tremendous engaged and locked in when he was concerned within the speedy motion, however that he would are likely to lose focus when he was away from it. That wasn’t an issue for Prime Wade.

Sure, the clips above are remoted incidents, and it will be no nice feat to curate a side-by-side like this that demonstrates the alternative level. However even once you evaluate their one-number defensive metrics and defensive on/off splits, the info factors to Wade being a considerably higher defender than final season’s model of Edwards.

Edwards appeared like a legit All-Star on the finish of final season. That’s no query. But when he’s going to show himself right into a respectable MVP candidate (like Wade was at his peak), he’ll want to enhance his scoring effectivity, playmaking, off-ball offense, and defensive focus.

These enhancements definitely aren’t out of the realm of risk. We’ve been alluding to this truth your complete time, however Edwards continues to be simply 22. Wade was in his mid-20s throughout many of the seasons we cited. Edwards could make these adjustments. And if he does, he’ll be the newest torchbearer within the storied lineage of nice two-way taking pictures guards.



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