A lot has already been made about the Boston Celtics getting a steal in former Purdue guard Carsen Edwards. A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Edwards was taken with the 33rd pick in the 2019 Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, which sent that selection to the Celtics earlier in the evening. While he had a terrific showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 29.8 points per 36 minutes on a sweltering 64.3 True Shooting percentage and a 46.7 percent clip from three, I would argue that falling to the exact spot that he did was the best outcome for Edwards, the Celtics, and the NBA as a whole.
As a general rule, I am skeptical of using a first or high-second round draft pick on any guard who is shorter than 6’3 and doesn’t distribute the ball at a high level or some type of crazy statistical outlier. Edwards is definitely not one of those guards. Through all three of his seasons with the Boilermakers, he never once topped a 20 percent AST% and only averaged 3.1 helpers per 40 minutes in 2018-19.
Among all drafted guards this year, he was third from the bottom in raw Assist-to-Turnover ratio at 0.9, ahead of only Darius Garland, who was hurt, and Luguentz Dort, who is a power forward in a 6’4 frame. He’s just not any kind of real distributor, and it’s not as though Purdue was starved for talent — the Boilermakers won at least 27 games in all three of Edwards’ seasons, and Trevion Williams just played on the United States’ gold medal winning U19 squad in Greece.
The long and short of it is that drafting Edwards to be a primary ballhandler would probably have been a mistake, because spending that high of a selection on a non-lead guard is almost never a good idea. If you look at Edwards more like the Landry Shamet of 2019 — an extremely valuable specialist — then his fit in the NBA becomes more apparent.
What was so encouraging to see in Vegas is that the Celtics seem to view him this way already and did everything they could to run him off movement and around their arsenal of screeners to develop the kind of open looks he needs to thrive. Look at how quickly they hammered home the particular shot selection they wanted from him.