Bench scoring is currently the topic of discussion as we move closer to the trade deadline. That’s where Boston’s roster is weakest. After drafting microwave scorer Carsen Edwards, this is a weakness few envisioned heading in the season. It started well for him as he enjoyed a promising Summer League, posting 19.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists over 23.4 minutes per game in Vegas.
Opportunities were afford to him at the start of the season, just like they were afforded to Grant Williams. Unfortunately for Edwards, he has been unable to find consistency from the bench, going scoreless in nine of his thirty appearances whilst only dropping more than ten points on three occasions.
For his NBA career to date, Edwards is shooting a paltry 32 of 102 from the field and 19 of 62 from deep. Here is a player who looked devoid of confidence, a player who is having to make the transition from the college game to the pros on a contending team full of athletic talent but lacking shooters.
Shooters need confidence and for that, players like Edwards need reps. He is a ball dominant guard who excels at shooting off screens or driving into the teeth of the defense. In Boston, he is required to do neither of those things. His role on the Celtics is to provide a scoring spark as a spot-up shooter which is evidenced by 39.2 percent of his shots being taken without a single dribble per NBA Stats. Furthermore, he is shooting 50 percent of his shots within two seconds of receiving the ball, while 45 percent of his looks are being take while being tightly guarded.
Brad Stevens provided Edwards with time to play through these struggles, just as he did with Grant Williams. However, Williams does not require the ball in his hands in order to affect games. Edwards does and has a much sterner battle for rotational minutes. It makes sense then, that he spend some time playing in Maine.
While in Maine, Edwards will be provided with the opportunity to rediscover his scoring touch while learning the Celtics schemes. As he rediscovers his unique ability to score in bunches, his confidence will grow which will hopefully lead to another opportunity in the big leagues down the line.
It’s that scoring ability which was on display Saturday night against the Greensboro Swarm. Edwards dropped 41 points on 14-of-28 shooting from the field and 6-of-13 from deep, filling up his stat line with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was dominant from start to finish in this match-up, going deep into his bag on multiple occasions to get his shot off.
Highlights: ICYMI, we moved to 21-8 on the season with a 119-117 win over the @greensboroswarm!— Maine Red Claws (@maineredclaws) February 2, 2020
Key Performers:@Cboogie_3 41 points / 6 rebounds
Tremont Waters 16 points / 8 assists / 1 game winner@Kaisergates 13 points / 9 rebounds#CrustaceanNation pic.twitter.com/q6DaKg7Dfk
He provided the fans with some great looks from outside coupled with some hard drives to the basket while sprinkling some sweet looking pull-ups into the mix for good measure. It was an accomplished performance from the young rookie.
What’s most encouraging about this performance is that Edwards is learning he can still play to his strengths in Boston while acting as a scorer from the bench. The systems are the same, allowing him to learn and develop patterns that work for him while fitting in with the motion on offense. Adding game experience to his development is key. It will breed the confidence required to attack NBA defenses on a nightly basis.
Still not ready to provide a scoring punch off the bench, the G-League may be the better option for his development over the remainder of the season, allowing him to work through any struggles he may encounter while getting acclimated to a higher level of competition than what he experienced in college.
His rookie year may not be going the way he or anyone else envisioned it, but if he can continue to display the scoring ability he showed in his last game, the minutes will be there for the taking during summer league and training camp. We all saw the progression Robert Williams made by following a similar developmental scheme. Now it’s Carsen’s turn to continue putting in the work and making people take notice.