Carsen Edwards showed a lot of heart and leadership in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but dedicated college basketball fans weren’t at all surprised by his performance. In the tournament he averaged 34.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2 assists, with 2.8 turnovers. He also showed tremendous efficiency in those four games, shooting 46% from three, and 45% from the field. His outstanding scoring performances lead to him breaking Stephen Curry’s scoring record throughout the first 4 rounds of the tournament. Stephen Currys scored 128 points (32 points per game,) and Carsen Edwards scored 139 (34.8 points per game.) He was a man amongst boys when it came to his Purdue teammates, especially in that Elite 8 game against Virginia. He was the only player on Purdue to score more than 7 points, and he was singlehandedly keeping their tournament dreams alive. He looked like one of the best players in all of college basketball throughout this 4 game stretch. Surprisingly his draft stock remained for the most part unchanged. In most mock drafts, he wasn’t even protected to go in the first round. Even when he was, he was projected to go very late in the first.
Due to some substantial red flags, such as being undersized, lack of play making ability, weak protection of the ball, less than efficient shooting and age are some reasons teams have been looking past Carsen Edwards. Those flaws aren’t exactly ideal in the eyes of most GM’s. On paper, these flaws look too large to overlook, but believe it or not if you dig a little bit deeper, you’ll learn that these flaws are nothing to worry about.
First of all, let’s talk about his height. He’s 6’1, which isn’t ideal for your point guard, but players like Mike Conley, Eric Bledsoe, and Chris Paul have shown in recent years that you don’t need to be 6’5 to play the point guard position in the NBA. Not only that, but with how physically he plays, he appears to be stronger than both Conley and Paul, which will help him on the next level.
Now let’s talk about his poor playmaking abilities and his high number of turnovers. When Edwards gets to the NBA, he’ll be able to show how good his playmaking abilities really are. He didn’t have the best roster around him at Purdue, and that’s why his box score may not be the prettiest. He had to carry that team on his back during the tournament, and that high workload led to him having to take over games by himself. Which led to less assists, and more turnovers. The Boilermakers were 12-6 in games where Edwards turned the ball over 3 or more times, and in games where he had 3 or more assists, they were 15-5. This shows that whether or not he was getting his teammates involved didn’t determine whether or not they had success. Obviously, his playmaking isn’t great, and he does need to cut down on his turnovers, but he will have some impressing to do to prove that these aren’t as big of problems as they may initially appear.
Upon Carsen Edwards entering the NBA, his efficiency will increase. In Edwards’ junior season, he shot 45.8% from the field, and 40.6% from three. Those aren’t bad efficiency numbers. In his junior season he shot 39.4% from the field, and 35.5% from three. So why the drop-off in efficiency? Once again, it has to do with increased workload. Purdue finished the season ranked #13 in the nation. Taking Carsen Edwards off of this team, do you think they’d still be there? Would they even be top 25? Carsen was the heart and soul of this team, and from accounts from his teammates and coaches, he was the locker room leader of the this team. He was the lifeblood of the Purdue basketball team, and he will be able to translate that heart into the NBA.
Now to touch on his shooting stats; in games where Carsen Edwards shot 27% or less from three, they were 6-6. In those 12 games, he made 22/123 three pointers. That’s only 17.9%. In games where Carsen Edwards shot higher than 27% from three the Boilermakers went 20-4. In those 24 games, he made 113/257 three pointers. That’s 44%. This shows that when Carsen makes his shots, his team does better. That sounds obvious, and that’s not very surprising, but believe it or not it shows Carsen’s efficiency isn’t the problem, it was his situation. In those 12 games where he shot less than 27% from three, he was forced to keep shooting because that’s his role. Nobody on Purdue could takeover the game like he can. When he gets to the NBA, and he gets a real team around him, he won’t need to keep shooting. In those 12 games, he averaged 10.3 three point attempts per game. In The NBA, he won’t need to take that many shots. In the NBA, not all the pressure will be on him, and I believe that a higher shooting percentages will be the outcome.
He’ll never be able to change his height, and he’ll never be able to change his age, but the one thing he can do, is change the way NBA GM’s perceive him. He’s not afraid to shy away from the pressure, and that underdog mentality is something you can’t teach. Carsen Edwards is a very talented ball handler, shooter, with a heart and drive that is unmatched by anyone going into the draft. Carsen Edwards is a superstar in the making, and whatever NBA team he ends up on just found a diamond in the rough.