One by one, the shots kept going up and then down, through the net for Boston Celtics guard Carsen Edwards. For the folks at Cleveland’s Q Arena, Edwards was delivering the kind of shooting clinic that you don’t often see from guys in an open gym let alone in a game.
The second-round pick dropped 30 points on the Cavs in a preseason win for Boston, highlighted by Edwards’ 26-point third quarter onslaught that got props from his teammates as well as NBA legends such as Dwyane Wade on Twitter.
It was a reminder as to why there was a joyful noise coming out of the Celtics’ offices on draft night moments before the trade for Edwards in the second round of last June’s NBA draft, became official.
There was a period of time during training camp when Edwards’ lights-out shooting was hotter than usual, prompting head coach Brad Stevens to say at the time that Edwards has, “been making shots the last five days.”
But hearing his words out loud, Stevens quickly added, “He’s been making shots forever.”
It’s a successful season for Edwards if …
He continues to do what we’ve seen thus far in the preseason. He appeared in all four games and averaged 18.1 minutes of court time, which is probably more than he will average this season. A big emphasis for Edwards to play this season lies in his ability to be solid defensively, a part of his game that’s often overshadowed by his offensive prowess. While undersized at 6-foot-1, he makes up for that with a 6-6 wingspan. But of course, it is the promise he has shown as an instant-offense, catch-and-shoot scorer who can get hot offensively at any time. He had an offensive rating in the preseason of 112.6 which was tops among all Celtics who appeared in all four games and averaged at least 10 minutes of court action.
It’s a disappointing season for Edwards if …
He becomes the latest summer league/preseason sensation whose game doesn’t translate nearly as well when it matters. There’s a lot of attention paid to what he does offensively, which is understandable. But if he struggles defensively, that will significantly limit his opportunities on the floor. And even if he’s doing a decent job defensively, he will see better defenders as the season progresses. Can he still manage to free himself up for shots? And if his shots aren’t falling, what can he provide? The answers to those questions will go far in determining the success of this season for Edwards.
We knew coming out of Purdue that Edwards was a big-time, high-volume scorer who could light up the scoreboard at any time. No one expects him to be that prolific scoring the ball this year for Boston. But what we’ve seen in the preseason and in summer league, certainly bodes well for him being a difference-maker for the Celtics this season off the bench. His size will certainly work against him as a defender in some instances. But that has been a concern at every level of play for him, and it never has prevented him from being an impact performer. If he can play at a level comparable to what we’ve seen thus far, Edwards may wind up being the X-factor the Celtics need in order to solidify their place as one of the top teams in the East.
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