Shortly after Purdue’s exit to the 2018 NCAA Tournament last weekend, news broke that star guard Carsen Edwards has made the (unsurprising) decision to test the 2018 NBA Draft waters this spring. While the news was expected, it was still significant and could have a huge impact on Purdue’s hopes next season.
Why do I say that?
Let’s dive into the numbers to find out.
Edwards arrived on campus with a fair amount of hype. He was rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and a top 120 recruit in the 2016 class. Edwards was also a top 10 player in the talented state of Texas and fans hoped he could translate that in West Lafayette.
And, generally speaking, Edwards has lived up to that hype since then.
As a freshman, Edwards played in 35 games for the Boilermakers and averaged an impressive 10.3 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. During that season, he became a reliable player for Purdue and played some key minutes in the NCAA Tournament as well, scoring 12 points in the team’s opening round win against Vermont.
Those numbers only improved in Edwards’ second year. He averaged 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game this season and finished as a top 10 player in KenPom’s individual player ratings. His offensive rating was 117.3 and he shot 40.6 percent from deep.
Simply put, those are absolutely eye popping numbers.
And they could all be leaving Purdue’s campus in a few short weeks.
But what’s incredible to think about is that Edwards’ contributions alone might not even be the most significant part of his decision. Fans know he’s a great player and his departure would be noticed, but the significance really comes out when one looks at what else is departing from Purdue’s roster this offseason.
Even without including Edwards, Purdue will be losing four of its starters, including do-it-all senior Vincent Edwards and offensive juggernaut Isaac Haas. It’s a group that has experienced immense success over the last few seasons and won a lot of games.
Of course, those seniors also played a ton of minutes in route to that success. In fact, all four of those seniors played at least 69.4 percent of Purdue’s playing time this season. As such, the Boilermakers ended up finishing at just 216th nationally in bench minutes.
And that’s the thing for the Boilermakers. This team is losing a massive, massive amount of experience in those four seniors. Adding in Edwards makes things look even challenging. If he ends up going pro, Purdue would be looking at replacing all five starters and 70.1 percent of the team’s minutes from this season. Even if a coach has a history of recruiting and developing talent, that’s really tough to overcome.
While Matt Painter and his staff will have to move forward, regardless of what Edwards decides to do, it’s hard to feel optimistic about where the Boilermakers would be headed next season if Edwards took his talents to the NBA. We’ve seen other teams in the Big Ten like Iowa and Wisconsin try to go through similar one-year rebuilds and it’s gone poorly in almost every scenario.
The good news, though, is that Edwards still has some time to make his decision and that Painter has shown he can find a way to keep Purdue relevant, even with departing talent before. So, buckle up. This could be another interesting NBA Draft deadline this year.