Monday, June 17, 2024

NBA Exec: ‘We Need’ Anthony Edwards to Become NBA’s New Top USA Star amid Playoffs

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C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

As international stars continue to establish themselves as the faces of the NBA, a league executive expressed their belief this week that the NBA needs an American star to emerge in the form of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards.

Speaking to Jon Krawczynski and Joe Vardon of The Athletic on the condition of anonymity, a “prominent” NBA exec commented on the NBA needing more young American players to break through, specifically mentioning Edwards:

“When you look at the top NBA players under 31, you can make the argument that all of them are international. I’m curious with the American television audience, do they translate? [Boston Celtics forward Jayson] Tatum is a great player. The Celtics are a great brand. [Memphis Grizzlies guard] Ja [Morant] and [New Orleans Pelicans forward] Zion [Williamson] haven’t been able to figure it out for a variety of reasons. We need Edwards.”

While American players have long dominated the NBA, many of the top American stars of the past 20 years are nearing the end of their careers, including LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns.

In their place, international players have largely stepped up and become the talk of the league’s present and future.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić of Serbia has won three of the past four NBA MVP awards and was the NBA Finals MVP last season.

Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo won NBA Finals MVP in 2021 by leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship, and he is a two-time NBA MVP as well.

Aside from Jokić and Giannis, the only other MVP in the past six seasons is Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. While he will represent the United States at the 2024 Summer Olympics, he was born in Cameroon.

An American hasn’t won MVP since James Harden in 2018, and it is possible that drought could continue for quite some time.

Finishing behind Jokić in this year’s MVP voting was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks (Slovenia) and Antetokounmpo.

Even the NBA Rookie of the Year was an international player, as French center Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs won the award unanimously and seems poised to be a superstar for years to come.

The 22-year-old Edwards was seventh in the MVP voting, and he enjoyed his best season to date, averaging 25.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.4 three-pointers made and 1.3 steals per game.

He has also helped he T’Wolves reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2004 and has a chance to lead them to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

In addition to being an electric two-way player on the court, Edwards is candid off of it, suggesting that he has superstar tendencies.

The NBA is in great hands regardless due to the influx of young talent it has received in recent years, but Edwards continuing to emerge and being one of the faces of the league would undoubtedly be a good thing for American basketball.

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