From time to time the NCAA Tournament becomes a launching pad for a potential NBA prospect, with the postseason being the perfect opportunity for a good player to suddenly catch fire with NBA teams. Carsen Edwards was no slouch prior to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, as evident by being a second team All-American and winning the Jerry West Award in 2018. However, the flaws in Edwards game became glaringly apparent down the stretch in his junior season and one had to question if he would end up drafted if he declared early.
Then the NCAA Tournament happened.
Edwards dropped 42 points against both Villanova and Virginia, including a 10 of 19 performance from three against the eventual champs. The NBA (and current players) took notice. Edwards decided to strike while the iron was hot, likely realizing he wasn’t likely to improve his stock much if he returned for one more season, and entered the 2019 NBA Draft.
At the collegiate level Edwards had plenty of strengths. He could run the point, make his own shot at will and play off the ball when necessary. He was a knock out three point shooter (at times) and one of the best scorers at the collegiate level. And Edwards will hope he can find a way to replicate that success at the pro level.
Carsen Edwards was a streaky shooter at times, but the Virginia game showcased his ability to completely take over the game and hit anything and everything from beyond the arc. The obvious comparison from an offensive perspective would be Steph Curry, another guard that can seemingly throw up anything at the rim and convert. Edwards isn’t as consistent and is nowhere near as good running the point, so he’ll have to rely on his shooting. And with Edwards measuring in at 6’1”, his three point shooting will likely be the determining factor at the NBA level. If Edwards can be more consistent from deep, there’s a decent chance he could find a role on a NBA team.
Edwards showed that he could play both off the ball and at the point for Purdue, but he was always best as a shooting guard and being the one taking the shots. Part of that was the talent pool surrounding him, with Edwards at times being one of the few offensive weapons for Purdue. The problem with that is he’ll have to adjust to a completely different role at the pro level. Unfortunately for Edwards he’s undersized at 6’1” and if he’s going to attempt to replicate his success at the collegiate level he’s going to be matching up against more athletic (and taller) guards that should be able to find better success stopping him when he has the ball.
Of course Edwards can shoot, meaning he could see a role playing off the ball and shooting from beyond the arc. The problem with that is he was a volume shooting guard who had major issues with consistency at Purdue. If Edwards wants to find consistent playing time in the NBA he’ll need to more dependable from game to game. Everyone remembers and loves when he’s shooting 10 of 19 from three, but don’t forget his 3 of 15 nights or the two game stretch against Indiana and Nebraska when he hit one of his 20 three point attempts.
With Edwards likely being a rotational player his best fit is a legitimate question. Edwards was a volume shooting guard forced to be his team's main offensive weapon the entire season and his role will be nowhere near that next season. Edwards could run the offense at Purdue, but he seemed to look for his own shot more than finding an open teammate and might not be a strong point guard at the next level.
As an undersized shooting guard, Edwards will likely need to find a team where he can play off the ball and be utilized as a three point shooter if he wants to see minutes. While his game at Purdue mimicked a player like Steph Curry at the collegiate level, Edwards will have to retool his game considerably for the NBA.
Edwards will likely end up being selected in the second round meaning he’s going to need to earn a spot on a NBA roster. There’s a solid chance he could see some considerable minutes in the G League this upcoming season and he’ll likely see some playing time down the stretch this season. The question is if he can find a way to contribute consistently when he does make his way onto the court this season.