Carsen Edwards left Purdue a year early as one of the program’s most potent scorer. He entered college as a barely top-100 recruit from Texas, and left college basketball with one of the best March Madness runs in history.
He will now try to become the next big impact Boilermaker in the NBA after being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the 33rd pick of the 2019 draft. The pick has been traded to Boston, however.
Edwards led the Big Ten in scoring, and was 9th nationally, scoring 24.3 points per game to go along with 2.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. He was named a consensus All-American.
But he struggled, at times, with his shot during the regular season. After shooting over 40% from 3 his sophomore year, Edwards made 35% of his attempts this season. He attempted 380 on the year.
But those efficiency concerns were nearly erased over night, when the Boilermakers finally broke through to the Elite Eight. Carsen Edwards South Regional’s Most Outstanding Player honors after his tear in the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 34.8 points per game, including two 42 points point performances, one game against the then defending champion Villanova Wildcats, and then a week later against the now defending champion Virginia Cavaliers.
Carsen Edwards’ 42 point performance against the Cavaliers was the performance of the tournament. He knocked down 10 threes in the game, pull-ups from 30 feet and off-the-catch threes that would make Klay Thompson think twice made highlights while most of that damage late in the game was done against #4 pick De’Andre Hunter.
Hello, Celtics Fans, What are you getting?
You’re getting a guard who looks small. Carsen Edwards measured at just 6 feet in shoes, but he’s 199 lbs. and his wingspan measured 6’6”. He plays bigger. He’s a guard that gets into his man, that attacks passing lanes, and is hard as hell to get a clean screen on. He’s going to be a solid defender. Coach Painter does not mess around with defense, you play it or you don’t play. (To be fair, Edwards carried a lot of the offense, and his defense during the regular season was a little hit or miss, but a tuned in Edwards is not a fun person to be on you. His problems came mostly from poor positioning and a lack of attention off-ball.)
That being said, Edwards was an offensive player in college. He loves to shoot. He can do it from anywhere.
His range is to 30 feet, as he showed in March. He has worked with personal skills coach Joey Burton (who is collecting a card deck worth of NBA players) over the last few years to add foot work and NBA skills to his game.
I asked him what the team that drafts him can expect:
“A player that works extremely hard and will continue to do so for the Celtics. He is always trying to improve his game not only on the offensive end but the defensive also. He is an elite shot maker that possesses supreme confidence. Ultimately, they are getting an outstanding young man.”
He has impeccable foot work. Purdue’s motion offense was built around Carsen’s ability to take screens at full speed, change directions, and stop on a dime, rising up and knocking down tough shots. This skill will translate from day 1 in the NBA. Shooters that can work off the ball and make shots from anywhere stretch the floor.
Edwards has a ton of moves. He’s really improved at finishing at the rim. He has found pace to his drives, and has a way of hanging around the rim and getting around taller players. He’s explosive. He will get by his man, but he needs to work on his playmaking. He settled too much this year for pull-ups. He needs to develop his ability to probe a defense and finding shooters on the outside.
For the Celtics, Edwards is liable to fill some of the potential ball-handling load that might be vacated if Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier leave in free agency. His lack of height is also mitigated by all the length around him. With the Celtics grabbing rooking Romeo Langford, and already having a cabinet full of lengthy wings, a short guard who can shoot could be a Godsent.
Edwards will allow the wings to work with the ball in their hands, while guarding quicker guards on the perimeter, but it’s Edwards ability to make tough shots that could most appeal to coach Brad Stevens. Edwards offers a high ceiling in a league that values shooting above everything.