The way the ball goes through the net. The way he elevates over defenders. The way he bullies his way to the hoop. The way he talks about the game. Anthony Edwards makes everything look easy. He's different. He's special.
One game against a bad Houston Rockets team is easy to dismiss, but the oft-awful Timberwolves looked amazing in the season opener Wednesday night. And it wasn't Edwards alone. It was a pack of hungry wolves roaming with ferocious tenacity on both ends of the court.
They poked, tipped, blocked and stripped the Rockets to the tune of 24 turnovers. The defense had 18 steals and 13 blocks, leading to 31 fast break points. Edwards, acting as the lead dog, scored eight of his 24 first-half points after the Wolves forced a turnover.
Of everything different about the 2021-22 Timberwolves, no one stands out as much as Edwards. He was stunning every time he touched the ball.
He took a pass from Malik Beasley at the top of the 3-point line and took one dribble and two steps before erupting off the court for a monster dunk. He took a dribble to his left around a screen from Karl-Anthony Towns and buried a three. He bullied the smaller Kevin Porter Jr. and got to the hoop for an easy bucket. The 20-year-old was money on catch-and-shoot and step-backs, twice crossing over the taller Christian Wood and creating significant space before burying deep shots from the wing and corner.
It was easy. It was effortless. It was expected.
"I don't even think about it as feeling good. I think about it as that's what I do, you know what I'm saying? I put the work in, like I said previously, like a 9-to-5 every day in the summer so it should fall," Edwards said after the game.
Edwards wasn't getting bounces or being credited with a shooter's touch. Nothing rattled home. It was like there wasn't a rim, just net. It was as if the basketball was a guided missile, never tracking offline and exploding upon impact with the net.
It was like Michael Jordan took over his body for one night. But what if Edwards wasn't joking when he predicted that he'd get to a Jordan-like level if he grew 2 inches taller?
"He told me, 'Don't let me get to 6'6" or I'll be Michael Jordan,'" Wolves coach Chris Finch said of Edwards during a preseason interview with the Star Tribune.
Scary thing is, Edwards did grow 2 inches during the offseason, transforming into a 6'6'' specimen with rare size, power and athleticism.
One night does not make a Michael Jordan. But Edwards effectively put the league on a watch, and conditions are favorable for more dominant performances. If he continues to do what he did to the Rockets, that watch will be upgraded to a warning, with large dunks and damaging 3s expected to impact opponents.
Edwards had the sirens going off when he launched the Rockets into the abyss with a second-quarter flurry of buckets that were so nasty that he literally looked at Houston's bench and advised them to a call timeout. Next time he might just call a hearse.
"At the end of the day I'm going to be me and be a killer," Edwards said before the season. A killer with bag of tricks that nobody saw from him as a rookie.
"Y'all gonna see. It's going to be fun," Edwards said Sept. 27, referring to himself as
Better yet is that any time Houdini has an off night, he's surrounded by very capable scorers to take the stage. Towns scored 30 against the Rockets, creating an extremely dangerous one-two punch with Edwards. And on a rare night when Ant and KAT aren't hitting shots, there's D'Angelo Russell sitting the chamber ready to fire.
In the third quarter against Houston, the Wolves scored just two points in the first 4-5 minutes. Ant and KAT weren't scoring, but Russell went nuclear with a barrage of 3-pointers to restart the engine.
D'Lo buried three triples in a span of 44 seconds, then hit a fourth (a 28-footer) 90 seconds later to push Minnesota's lead to 31 points. Game over. Flawless victory.
Offense. Defense. Rebounding. Attitude. These aren't the same Wolves.
"Last year, I mean everybody was just comfortable. We was losing, everybody was just coming, practicing, going through it," said Edwards. "This year we got energy, everybody happy and we want to see our brothers succeed. We playing with passion out there and we playing to win this year."