Wolves Notes: Edwards, Gobert, Reid, Garza, Prince

Anthony Edwards‘ evolution into the franchise player in Minnesota remains a work in progress, but the Timberwolves guard is viewed by teammates and coaches as a great listener who is willing to put in the work necessary to reach stardom, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports writes in a profile of the former No. 1 overall pick. One area of ​​focus for the Wolves this season has been encouraging Edwards to find his teammates rather than forcing shots when opposing defenses double-team him.

“One thing we preach to him a lot is the essence of offense in the league is not how much you score, but when they put two on you and you create an advantage,” head coach Chris Finch he said. “No matter how they do it, pick-and-roll trap, early gap help, all that stuff that comes from the gravity he creates, just trying to continue to find the right play and trusting his teammates to score. Keep trusting the right pass.”

While Edwards is averaging a career-best 4.4 assists per game through 40 appearances this season, it’s his scoring ability that makes him special. He’s averaging a career-best 23.7 points per contest so far this season and led the Wolves to a victory over Portland on Wednesday with a game-high 32.

“He’s six years away (from his prime) and he’s already this good,” teammate Austin Rivers said that night, for Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter links). “Franchise player. He’s the guy here. There’s no doubt about it.”

Unfortunately, Edwards exited Friday’s game in the third quarter due to a sore left hip that has been bothering him as of late, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Wolves still managed to pull out a solid 128-115 win over the visiting Clippers.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic took a closer look on Friday at some advanced stats that suggest Rudy Gobert‘s defensive impact has declined this season, writing that the big man’s regression is a cause for concern. Hours later, Gobert delivered perhaps his best game since arriving in Minnesota, piling up 25 points and 21 rebounds in the team’s victory over the Clippers. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best Rudy yet,” he said after the game (story via Hine). “I’ve been putting in a lot of work. My teammates are sticking with me. The coaching staff is sticking with me. And I know that it’s going to pay off. It’s a long season. My goal is to just keep raising my level every day and set the tone for these guys.”
  • After missing the Wolves’ previous two games due to back spasms, backup center Naz Reid played just nine minutes on Friday before exiting early due to the same injury, Hine writes.
  • With Reid and Karl-Anthony Towns both sidelined, two-way player Luke Garza got a chance to crack the rotation this week and delivered with 23 points in 27 minutes during the two games Reid missed. Though Garza felt comfortable on the offensive end of the court, he was more concerned about how he performed on defense, Hine writes for The Star Tribune. “I know that’s the decider of how long I can stay in this league,” Garza said. “If I could become a real rotation piece, it’s how good I get at that end. … I think at the end of the day, just playing hard is going to help you most of the time.”
  • Taurean Prince‘s return has given the Wolves a shot in the arm, Hine says in another Star Tribune story. Prince has played 47 total minutes off the bench in his two games back after missing 20 consecutive contests due to a right shoulder injury. He scored double-digit points on Wednesday and Friday, both Minnesota wins. “He was our most consistent player in a lot of ways in his role, when he went out,” Finch said on Wednesday. “I knew what I was going to get from him every night. He knows who he is. His game is super well-defined and he sticks to his strengths, so definitely pleased to have him back.”

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