Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards has built a reputation for thunderous dunks and highlight reel plays over his young career. But his incredible self alley-oop slam off the backboard during Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies might go down as his magnum opus.
With just under 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Timberwolves clinging to a narrow lead, Edwards drove towards the baseline before lofting the ball high off the glass and throwing down a vicious one-handed jam over Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama.
The audacious dunk immediately set social media ablaze, with fans and pundits alike struggling to comprehend the combination of creativity, skill and sheer athleticism.
“I ain’t never seen nobody do it in the game,” a smiling Edwards told reporters after the game. “I don’t think you can do that on a 10-foot goal, can you?”
“I’ve seen somebody do it in an All-Star game or something like that just playing around,” he added. “But just do it in a game, a close game? I don’t know, that was cool though.”
Peers Left Awestruck
Edwards’ peers around the league clearly agreed with that assessment.
“Bro different !!!!! We not worthy,” tweeted Cleveland Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell, while Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young simply posted three fire emojis.
“ANT WILD FOR THAT,” exclaimed Edwards’ Timberwolves teammate Naz Reid.
The NBA’s official Twitter account called it “the dunk of the year candidate” and racked up over 2 million views in less than 24 hours.
The dunk of the year candidate! 😱🔥
Anthony Edwards throws the lob off the backboard to himself for the insane jam!
— NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2023
Edwards was typically nonchalant when asked by reporters if he knew how viral the dunk had gone.
“That’s cool. That’s great. Hopefully I can get some followers on Instagram,” he joked.
Liftoff To Superstardom?
Still just 21 years old, Edwards’ potential ascension to NBA superstardom has looked inevitable at times during his first three seasons. The former No. 1 overall pick has increased his scoring average every year, pouring in 24.7 points per game in 2022-23, good for 16th in the league.
His athleticism and physicality have always jumped off the screen. Now boasting improved efficiency and playmaking ability, Edwards seems poised to launch himself into the league’s upper echelon.
And while his latest viral moment doesn’t directly impact the success of a team with eyes on its first playoff appearance since 2018, it undoubtedly raised his profile even further as the Timberwolves push for seeding down the stretch. Minnesota sits 7th in the Western Conference at 25-22 prior to Thursday’s action.
“Anthony Edwards is Must See TV,” The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor raved on Twitter. “His highlights never disappoint. Ant is becoming a superstar before our eyes.”
Expect Edwards to feed off the energy from his newfound online fame and continue his torrid play after dropping 30 points against Memphis.
“I can’t lie, that was amazing,” Edwards said of the dunk. “I don’t know how I did it either, all I know is the ball went in the basket. So that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Previous Viral Dunking Displays
While arguably his most sensational, Wednesday’s self oop slam wasn’t Edwards’ first dunk to create an online frenzy.
Just last week, his violent posterization of Orlando Magic center Moe Wagner made waves across the internet. Edwards elevated from outside the restricted area despite a late contest before ferociously throwing down the right-handed finish, leading to a technical foul for taunting afterwards.
Earlier this season, the high-flying guard had NBA Twitter buzzing with a thunderous driving dunk over Detroit Pistons rookie Jalen Duren. Edwards managed to contort his body midair to absorb contact and power the ball through the rim.
|Jan 11, 2023
|vs Orlando Magic
|Poster dunk on C Moe Wagner
|Dec 21, 2022
|vs Detroit Pistons
|Contorted driving dunk on C Jalen Duren
Edwards’ penchant for aerial artistry traces back to his lone college season at Georgia in 2019-20. His dunks were arguably more discussed than his actual performance as one of the nation’s top freshmen.
In just his ninth NBA appearance on Jan. 5, 2021, Edwards threw down a ferocious right-handed slam off the dribble that many consider an early sign of star potential.
What’s Next For Ant?
Fresh off leading the shorthanded Timberwolves to a comeback win over the Grizzlies behind a 20-point fourth quarter, Edwards will look to stay hot when Minnesota visits Cleveland to battle Mitchell, Darius Garland and the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.
Beyond chasing a playoff spot over the season’s final months, speculation will continue swirling over whether the Timberwolves will offer Edwards a maximum contract extension this summer. As the centerpiece of Minnesota’s young core, locking down the high-flying franchise cornerstone feels inevitable.
Edwards has certainly proven worthy of life-changing money with his rapid development into an All-Star caliber producer. And if he keeps delivering more magical moments like Wednesday’s self oop stunner, his reel of ridiculous dunks will continue going viral and making him one of the league’s most recognizable young stars.
“So much incredible talent in our league man!!!” Draymond Green tweeted about Edwards. “Getting a chance to watch the younger guys put that talent on display is so dope!!”
Prepare for more stupefying slams as Ant-Man spreads his wings and takes flight.
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