Las Vegas can be a scary place; just ask Carsen Edwards.
“Not to be dramatic, but I really thought I was about to die.”
Edwards, among a number of other players and NBA-related persons, found himself in the midst of two earthquakes – magnitude 6.7 and 7.1 – that rocked southern Nevada and California last week. “I was in my room by myself,” Edwards said, “and I’m on the 16th floor so, right then I’m thinking – and I know this sounds deep – how am I going to survive?”
While the earthquakes may have shaken Las Vegas, the Purdue University product has sent the Boston Celtics his own vibrations, pleasant more so than terrifying. Edwards has impressed mightily during his stint with the Summer League Celtics, so much so that, while fellow second-round pick Tremont Waters recently agreed to a two-way deal with Boston, the Celtics are reportedly negotiating a full-time deal with him. And, while he has remained humble when questioned about his high-quality play, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll see much more time in Las Vegas beyond the coming Summer League Tournament.
“My first experience was a blessing, man” Edwards told Basketball Insiders. “I’m so happy to be here, just to have this opportunity and put on that jersey and be out there.”
Edwards, a standout Boilermaker, has been a certified bucket-getter in his short Summer League tenure. Through four games (and two starts), the diminutive combo-guard has averaged 18 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a steal in just 23 minutes per contest. Edwards has gotten to his spots on the floor with ease and, when it hasn’t been easy, he’s simply put his head down and bullied his way there. He certainly hasn’t been afraid to pull up from deep, either.
Edwards has also come along as a shooter since his last showing in the NCAA tournament. In three seasons with Purdue, Edwards posted field goal and three-point percentages of 41.2 and 36.8, respectively. Since, Edwards has proven himself one of the Summer League’s best and most consistent shooters; he’s shot 52 percent from the floor and 48.4 percent from three-point range.
“I just try to make the right decisions,” Edwards said. “I just try to get into my space, places where I’m comfortable.”
Despite his relative inexperience against NBA-level competition, a continued ascent for Edwards – and an end to his Summer League career after just his rookie appearance – shouldn’t be put out of the question as players and teams head into next season and beyond. And, while he may not have wanted to slip into the second round of June’s NBA Draft, Edwards may have hit the jackpot in landing with Boston.
Head coach Brad Stevens has his flaws, but he’s never had a problem maximizing the production of his guards. 2011’s Mr. Irrelevant, Isaiah Thomas, was a Most Valuable Player candidate in 2017, while Kyrie Irving, despite the reported unrest, posted arguably the two best statistical seasons of his career with the Celtics. Others, including Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and Jordan Crawford, have flourished under his watch and Edwards might just be the next in line.
Still, his work is far from over, and Edwards knows it. “It’s not the same [as in college],” he said as he pointed out that he still needed to improve his defense, decision making and consistency. “I’m still learning so much.”
“I know [the Celtics] just want me to improve. Help the team win, but continue to try and improve and be consistent every game.”
Edwards isn’t the perfect prospect. While they have yet to do so in the Summer League — and his strong, stocky build should help counteract this to a degree — NBA competition will take advantage of Edwards’ 6-foot stature. And, if it wasn’t already obvious, Edwards is a score-first, pass later type of guard; while that necessarily isn’t a bad thing given the role he should serve with the Celtics, Edwards’ passing ability must improve as he transitions to the NBA game and into a secondary role.
“[NBA players] are more athletic, they have more length,” Edwards said. “Playing against those guys, it’s tough.”
As Edwards pointed out, it will be tough for him. But, between the roster, coaching fit and his own talent, it’s as if everything has already started to come together for the talented guard. And it’s right there for the taking.
After his debut, Edwards noted his primary Summer League goal was to win. “I just want to make an impact on the team and just help us win,” he said.
The explosive Edwards truly has the chance to be something special in the NBA and, if he can take advantage of the opportunity ahead of him, he could help the Celtics do just that for a long time.
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