Anthony Edwards Showed Why He’s The Guy For Team USA Against Germany

On Sunday afternoon, Team USA held its final tune-up game for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Abu Dhabi, facing a very stiff test from a talented Germany squad led by Dennis Schröder and the Wagner brothers.

It wasn’t the best showing from the American squad, as they trailed by eight at the half and as many as 14 in the third quarter, struggling to find much in the way of rhythm on either end in the first 25 minutes of the game. They got picked apart by the Germany offense early on, with Schröder and Franz Wagner, in particular, giving them fits, and the offense was far too stagnant and slow in the early going, allowing the length of the German defense to frustrate them in the halfcourt.

On the game, only three players reached double figures for Team USA, as it was not exactly a balanced attack that got them to an eventual 99-91 win. Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves had 16 points each off of the bench, making strong cases that they needed to have their minutes load increased once the World Cup arrives, but it was Anthony Edwards that carried the load for the Americans with 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three, that kept Team USA from going into the World Cup on a sour note.

Edwards authored the highlight of the game in the first quarter when he threw down a massive dunk on Daniel Theis, setting the tone for what was set to be a sensational individual performance.

Given the struggles of the USA offense to move the ball well enough to create good looks, they were desperate to find someone capable of creating offense for themselves, and Edwards was the one to answer the bell, slicing through the defense to keep the Americans in touch.

In the fourth quarter, after a flurry of buckets from Haliburton and Reaves helped close the gap to end the third, it was again Edwards who took over, burying back-to-back threes off the bounce to tie the game at 86-86.

Down the stretch, Steve Kerr would run out the most successful lineup of the day with Edwards, Haliburton, Reaves, Mikal Bridges, and Jaren Jackson Jr., embracing the smaller stature of the USA squad but still maintaining plenty of length and keeping shooters all over the floor. Bridges, who had a few misses earlier in the quarter, would hit the three that put the Americans up for good with two minutes to go, as they would ultimately pull away for an eight-point win.

Given the way this USA squad is laid out, it seems likely that Steve Kerr will have to be adaptable each game to who is effective and who isn’t at a number of positions, but they’re going to need some players they can consistently rely on. Right now it seems the most important players are going to be Jackson Jr., who is their defensive anchor and most talented big man by a healthy margin, and Edwards, who seems to be the guy most comfortable stepping into the lead role on offense. He also is the player with the most diversity in his offensive game. Edwards is a three-level scorer capable of backing smaller defenders and taking advantage of his size, while able to use speed and athleticism to get by larger defenders. While this team continues to try and figure itself out as a group, Edwards is the one who seems at home already.

That’s not only important to this Team USA squad, but this figures to be a tremendous opportunity for Edwards’ growth as a leading man when he gets back to his NBA home in Minnesota. That is a team that is likewise trying to find its way with a collection of talented players that still need to figure out how they all fit together, and if Edwards can take a further step forward as a leader with Team USA, the carryover effect going into next season could be very big for the Timberwolves.