NBA regular season preview: All things Minnesota

December 10, 2020

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The Minnesota Timberwolves took many of the headlines heading into draft day in the NBA. On November 18, Minnesota entered the draft with the first overall pick and one major choice to make, who do they take with the first pick?

The Timberwolves ended up with athletic shooting guard, Anthony Edwards from the University of Georgia. Edwards was one of three players touted to be a potential number one pick, along with Lamelo Ball (Australia) and James Wiseman (Memphis). Edwards was electric for Georgia this past year and if there was in fact a March Madness tournament, he would’ve shown his true talent. He is a big time player with the ability to control a big time game by himself.

In his only season at the University of Georgia, Edwards proved why he was ranked at #4 in his class coming out of high school. In 32 games, Edwards averaged 19.1 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game to go along with 1.3 steals per game. He also made the all-SEC team as a freshman as well as the SEC rookie of the year award, racking up the honors in his first year in college.

Despite all of Edward’s success, there is still a knock on his game and that is his accuracy. Although he scored more than enough in his only collegiate season, Edwards only shot 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from the three-point line, much lower than the NBA averages last year of 46 and 36 percent. One reason for this could be his high shot count as Edwards took almost eight three-point attempts per game and this will surely decrease on the Timberwolves with D’Angelo Russell playing on-ball offense and other players requiring shots such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarrett Culver and Ricky Rubio.

The Timberwolves also have a very crowded backcourt now with guards such as Russell, Culver, Rubio, Edwards, Malik Beasley and Josh Okogie. Although Edwards is essentially guaranteed minutes being the first overall pick, this first year in the NBA will surely be a developmental year for him. Edwards will need to better his shot selection and tendencies, thankfully this is one of the more simple aspects of an NBA players’ game to fix.

The Timberwolves weren’t the only Minnesota storyline of this NBA offseason however, as four Minnesota natives were selected in this years draft. Daniel Oturu, Tyrell Terry, Zeke Nnaji and Tre Jones were all taken in the first 41 picks and Oturu became the first Golden Gopher drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004. Although both Oturu and Terry were not born in Minnesota, all four of these players made their names in the state while playing high school ball.

Oturu, who was originally drafted by the Timberwolves and then dealt to the Clippers, attended Cretin-Derham Hall high school in Saint Paul. Oturu really made a name for himself when he led his team to a Class 4A state title, scoring the winning dunk with 0.5 seconds left. He was only left off of the all-tournament team because of sportsmanship reasons after receiving a technical foul for shoving fellow draftee, Tre Jones.

Tyrell Terry followed a similar path to Oturu as Terry was born in North Dakota before moving to Minnesota later in his life. Terry attended DeLaSalle high school in Minneapolis, just minutes from the University campus. Terry won two state Class 3A championships in his sophomore and senior years and was drafted 31st overall this year by the Dallas Mavericks.

As for the two true-minnesotans, Zeke Nnaji and Tre Jones were both 5-star recruits coming out of high school. Nnaji attended Lakeville North high school before transferring to Hopkins high school. As a senior, Nnaji averaged over 24 points per game and nine rebounds per game and also managed to win the Class 4A state title over his former school from Lakeville.

As for Jones, he played for Apple Valley high school for all of his four years. Well, actually five years. Jones joined the varsity team at Apple Valley as an eighth grader and was a starter as a freshman. Jones led Apple Valley to two Class 4A titles in 2015 and 2017 and was a two-time Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year. Nnaji was the highest selection out of the four Minnesota natives, as he was picked 22nd overall by the Denver Nuggets. As for Jones, he was taken 41st overall by the San Antonio Spurs.

Basketball in Minnesota is looking as strong as ever, whether it be the up and coming stars developing in high school or the current representatives of the state in the NBA. Keep these names on your radar, because they are ready to do big things at the highest level.

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