May 27, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards drew high praise from Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr during their time together for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup this summer, but Edwards revealed Thursday afternoon that wasn’t always the case.

Edwards recalled meeting Kerr for his workout leading up to the 2020 NBA draft — where the Timberwolves made him the No. 1 overall selection — and being told by Kerr during the workout that he “wasn’t working hard enough.”

“I thought I was working hard,” Edwards said at Timberwolves media day on Thursday. “When he came, I was going through drills and he kept stopping them, like, ‘That’s all you got? That’s all you got?’ And I’m like, ‘Bruh, I’m going hard as you want me to go. What you want me to do? I’m sweating crazy.'”

Edwards joined Kerr and Bob Myers, then the Warriors team president, for dinner later that evening, where they reiterated the same message, including telling Edwards if they had the No. 1 overall selection, they would not have drafted him.

Golden State ended up selecting James Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick in that draft.

“He’s like, ‘Man, you’ve got to see Steph [Curry], KD and Klay [Thompson] work out,” Edwards said. “They still was continuously telling me, ‘You didn’t work hard enough. If we had the No. 1 pick, we wouldn’t take you.’ And I was just like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy.'”

Although Edwards remembered being surprised by his work ethic being questioned, he also realized Kerr was right.

“Me and my trainer riding home after dinner and we’re just talking like we got to pick it up,” Edwards said. “I don’t know how, I don’t know what we got to do, but we got to pick it up. After that. I became a madman at the gym.”

Fast forward three years later and Kerr, as the coach for Team USA, had a much different tune while watching Edwards show off his potential as a No. 1 option.

Minnesota’s third-year guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games this summer — despite a disappointing fourth-placed finish for Team USA — while contributing with some strong defensive efforts.

“He’s unquestionably the guy,” Kerr said after Edwards dropped 34 points in an exhibition victory against Germany. “You can see he knows it. But now the team knows it, and I think the fans see it.

“He genuinely believes he’s the best player in the gym every single night. And he’s such a dynamic young player. I think he’s taking a leap.”

Edwards said he and Kerr talked over the summer about that pre-draft session from a few years back where Edwards gave Kerr credit for altering his work habits.

“They played a huge role in where I am today because they pitched that to me early,” Edwards said.

It has been a strong 12 months for Edwards, 22, who made his first All-Star team in 2022-23, combined with a strong performance on the international stage and inking a new max contract extension worth up to $260 million.

All that has raised expectations for Edwards entering his fourth season.

“I’m going to need my teammates to do it,” Edwards said. “I can’t do anything without my teammates. As long as we go out there as a group of five, whoever’s on the court, and we come together and we win and I do what I do individually, I think whatever the next step people are expecting me to take I will take, but it has to be with my teammates.”

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