Kerr recalls Edwards' career-changing Warriors pre-draft workout

Kerr recalls Edwards’ career-changing Warriors pre-draft workout originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Warriors coach Steve Kerr thought what he was watching was a warmup, not the real thing. After about 15 minutes, Kerr realized where he was wrong: This wasn’t a warmup, but an actual workout. And not some ordinary one.

What he, then-Warriors general manager Bob Myers and team owner Joe Lacob were observing was Anthony Edwards’ pre-draft workout. The Warriors held the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, one slot behind the Minnesota Timberwolves. Edwards wound up being the top pick in the draft, but his first impression to the next team on the clock wasn’t as impressive as the player he has become.

“I just went down and I said, ‘Can you go a little harder?’ ” Kerr recalled Sunday during his pregame press conference. “He kind of looked at me like, ‘Yeah, OK’ and they started going a little harder. We ended up going back there a couple weeks later and we went to dinner and he told me, ‘Hey, thanks for saying that. I didn’t realize how hard I needed to work or what I needed to show.’

“It was a good reminder to me that these guys who are coming out at such a young age really haven’t learned how to work yet. One of the things we do here is have our young guys watch Steph Curry work out after practice. I remember saying something to Anthony at dinner about Steph and Kevin Durant and Klay [Thompson] and I said, ‘You’re going to see at that next level it takes game-like reps in practice to be able to hone your skill.’ We had a great conversation. He’s such a great young guy, and of course we bonded this past summer with Team USA and spent a lot of time together. He’s an amazing player.”

Kerr’s comments Sunday were in response to Edwards answering a question from reporters on Sept. 2 about the impact of the Warriors’ coach on his NBA career.

The message clearly got through to Edwards.

“Me and my trainer [were] riding home after dinner and we’re just talking like we got to pick it up,” Edwards said during the September press conference. “I don’t know how, I don’t know what we got to do, but we got to pick it up. After that, I became a madman at the gym.”

Edwards, who turned 22 years old at the start of August, quickly became Kerr’s alpha over the summer on Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. While Team USA disappointed as a whole, Edwards did not.

The All-Star shooting guard averaged 18.9 points for the Americans, and scored 20 or more points four times, including a 35-point performance against Lithuania in the second round.

“His talent stood out on a team of super-talented young guys,” Kerr said of Edwards’ Team USA performance. “And he knows it. He knows he’s the best player on the floor. I appreciate that about him. He loves the moment and embraces it, but is also a great teammate. The guys love playing with him.

“Supreme confidence and just a fearless player in the clutch.”

Like many others in the past, Edwards has transferred his Team USA experience to the benefit of his NBA team. The Warriors on Sunday will face Edwards and Timberwolves for the first time this season, and both he and Minnesota are off to a blistering start.

The Timberwolves come into the day 6-2 overall. Their offense is averaging the 17th-most points per game (112.4), but their defense is allowing a league-best 102.3 points per game. Edwards’ 102 defensive rating is by far the best of his career, and he continues to be a force offensively.

Edwards through eight games is averaging 27.9 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field, 40.4 percent shooting on 3-pointers and 80.0 percent shooting at the free throw line. All would be career highs. So would Edwards’ 6.3 rebounds and his 5.3 assists per game.

“He was just really coachable and fun to work with,” Kerr said. “To see the success he’s having is fantastic, because he’s a wonderful young guy and he’s overcome a lot.”

Kerr and the Warriors know they’ll have their hands full trying to keep Edwards in check Sunday night, and then again two days later Tuesday night in the Warriors’ first In-Season Tournament game on their home court.

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