It hasn’t been the easiest of start to Carsen Edwards’ young NBA career. His shots haven’t been falling at a consistent rate and his playing time is sporadic. Fittingly, Edwards best competitive performance so far came against former Celtic Isaiah Thomas who is all too familiar with the trials of being an undersized guard in a league of giants.
It’s not easy to score in this league and it’s even harder to find a rhythm. Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Wizards, Edwards was shooting a combined 10-of-32 from the field and 5-of-20 from behind the arc. That’s just 31.25 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep.
That’s what a shooter’s mentality is though. It’s not letting previous misses or bad shooting nights affect what you are doing in the present moment. All great shooters have the ability to block out everything and focus on the one thing in front of them: the basket. If they miss a shot, it doesn’t matter. They will make the next one. If that misses, then it’s the next one. This is how they have trained their brains to operate.
And that’s exactly what Edwards did versus the Wizards. He provided the spark off the bench just when the team needed it, finishing the night with 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from deep in just a shade over 20 minutes. This was the night Edwards had been waiting for since his last explosion against the Cavaliers during preseason.
“He was big time tonight, and we needed it.” - Kemba Walker on Carsen Edwards
After the game Edwards spoke about the impact IT had on his approach to the game;
Edwards has chosen a great player to model his game after, not just due to the similarities in height, but also because of the impact Thomas was able to make playing in the same system Edwards now finds himself a part of. The blueprint is there for him should he wish to analyze how and why Thomas was so effective during his time in Boston. The hard part comes with trying to implement that blueprint.
Thomas’s mentality was always part of what endeared him to the city of Boston. His never-say-die attitude and willingness to play through adversity fit seamlessly into the culture. That same mentality is what lead to him earning All-Star honors and having one of the best scoring seasons Boston has ever seen from a guard, now Edwards is showing signs he may be cut from a similar cloth.
The confidence in this shot, the fluid shooting motion and composure, you would never guess this was a player who went scoreless in his previous outing.
Look at how hungry he is for the ball, too He passes it off to Jayson Tatum on the strong side elbow. This causes his defender to stunt on Tatum which in turn provides Edwards room to work. He slides his feet into the corner three slot and calls for the ball back. Tatum feeds it to him and the shot is money.
Look at the bounce in his step when he makes it. You can see he is feeling it. And then he does it again.
This time he sizes up his man and waits for Enes Kanter to set a screen. A quick change of pace and boom! He finds himself open for a long two. Now, a long two is never a great shot, but with the on ball defender dropping in to the paint, it was the best available shot in this instance.
Then there was this play, which truly displayed the fearlessness of Edwards when he is feeling it. Wanamaker feeds him the rock just above the three-point shoulder after running into resistance on the low block. Edwards drive and runs into Dāvis Bertāns, but instead of taking a step back dribble, he hits him with a spin move which leaves Bertāns on an island and Edwards with ridiculous amounts of space. He takes two steps towards the high block and pulls up. The shot is money.
Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston after the game about a conversation he had with Edwards leading up to the game, that conversation may have had more of an impact than Kemba originally realized.
Shooters have a way of compartmentalizing missed shots or bad shooting nights and confining them to short term memory, ready to be flushed out by their brain during the coming night’s sleep.
Nights like these though? Well, they will be stored in his long term memory and used as a catalyst to drive him to perform like this again. The feelings he would have experienced during and after the game will serve as a refreshing reminder as to why he plays this game and just how good he actually is.