But he still recognizes the numbers teammate Anthony Edwards – the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and a Rookie of the Year candidate – is posting.
“I’ve said it since Day 1, we made the right pick,” said Towns, who had 27 points, six rebounds and four assists. “I don’t think there’s any question. I don’t want it to be missed. I don’t want it to be looked over. There’s a reason he was double-teamed. They should double-team him. No other rookie has earned that respect in this league. So when you go and you write your stories and your narratives and you write the truth you all write, make sure it’s the right one. That’s what journalism is all about. It’s writing the truth.”
While Edwards wanted to diffuse the Butler-KAT conversation, Towns circled back in an effort to make sure that it didn’t overshadow what he believed was the most important message: that Edwards is coming on down the stretch like a freight train and that Ball’s return to the Hornets lineup should not, in his eyes, distract from that.
“There ain’t no other rookie in this league getting double-teamed. There ain’t no other rookie putting up the numbers Ant is. There ain’t no other rookie causing the havoc and mayhem before the game even starts with the scouting reports like Anthony is,” Towns said. “But I don’t want to hear nothing about no other people who are rookies. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t go by hype, I go by stats.”
By stats, Towns is probably referring to Edwards’ rookie-high 19.0 points per game.
But some other stats (all entering Sunday):
- Edwards is shooting just 48% on 2-pointers and 33% on 3-pointers. His effective field-goal percentage (48%) ranks 118th among 126 qualified players.
- He’s averaging 2.8 assists per game and 2.3 turnovers per game. Among non-bigs averaging so many turnovers per game, only Pistons forward Josh Jackson is averaging fewer assists per game than Edwards.
- Edwards’ defensive estimated plus-minus (-1.2) ranks in the 23rd percentile.
Overall, Edwards has been an inefficient player with holes in his game this season. Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball and Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton have more reliably contributed to winning when on the court than Edwards, who had an especially rough start. Edwards’ advantage is volume, having stayed healthy and played a major role.
Edwards has also improved immensely throughout the year. He is surging to the finish. His athleticism and infectious personality reveal a star upside. Though his rough start factors significantly into Rookie of the Year consideration, it will not prevent him from succeeding throughout his much-longer career. Most rookies go through similar struggles and some become excellent players.
It’s nice Towns is so vehemently supporting his teammate.
But the most accurate praise of Edwards is for his long-term potential, not his Rookie of the Year candidacy.