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NBA • 0 min read • May 07, 2024

Anthony Edwards is Becoming Michael Jordan 2.0

Anthony Edwards has raised his game to another level during the 2024 NBA playoffs, eliciting comparisons to the greatest guard of all time. The Timberwolves star is not at Michael Jordan's level yet, but the gap between those two is undeniably narrowing. The link between Edwards and Jordan is natural, given that both are among the greatest athletes that the league has ever seen. Their highlight plays are mesmerizing and can be eerily similar at times. 


That similarity in style extends past their dunking feats. Whether intentional or not, Edwards looks more and more like Jordan with every passing day. The younger superstar is pulling from MJ's playbook in terms of moves, defense, and attitude. 



Anthony Edwards Has the Michael Jordan Fadeaway Down


Jordan dominated right off the bat due to his sheer speed and leaping ability. However, if there was one shot that defined the second half of his career, it was his post-fadeaway. It was completely unstoppable and helped him lead the league in scoring through his 30s after his legs had started to age. Jordan's success with his fadeaway was based on three things. 


First, Jordan was way ahead of the curve when it came to strength training. Jordan used that power to back down players and create separation. Second, Jordan had amazing footwork, using counters so that defenders couldn't sit on his moves. Third, Jordan still had good hops, which allowed him to get that shot off in traffic. 


Edwards has all three of those components as well. Edwards can absolutely muscle defenders down low, and Michael Jordan's fade has become a go-to shot for him down the stretch of close games. The similarity in technique between the two is uncanny. It's no wonder that fans are wondering if the two are related. 



Taking a Page Out of Michael Jordan's Defensive Playbook


Jordan is remembered primarily as an electric scorer, but he could also defend at an elite level. Jordan made nine All-Defensive teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1988. Jordan didn't start getting that defensive recognition until his fourth season. Edwards is on a similar trajectory. Edwards was known first and foremost as a scorer during his first three seasons. 


His on-ball defensive starter to pick up at the end of his third year, but Edwards was thought of as a poor defender overall because he made far too many mistakes away from the ball. Edwards has embraced that defensive challenge in his fourth year, asking for the toughest assignments at the end of games. 


Jaren Jackson Jr. was destroying the wolves earlier in the season, making it look like Memphis was poised for a big upset. Edwards asked to guard the much bigger forward, completely locking him down in the fourth quarter to lead Minnesota to a comeback win. 


" I have nights like this all the time where somebody gets hot or their best player gets hot, and I shut them down for the rest of the game, Edwards said afterward. Edwards has done the same against the Nuggets to start the team's second-round series, surprisingly taking on the Jamal Murray assignment. Edwards forced Murray into a tough 6-of-14 shooting night in Game 1, limiting him to just 17 points and sticking like glue to him. 


Jordan used to do the same in the playoffs, taking on some of the toughest guard matchups one-on-one. Doc Rivers called Jordan " a suffocating defender." Youre bringing the ball up thnking, Man is this guy even going to let me get over half court? It was unberable, " He told ESPN'S Jackie Macmullen back in 2020. 



Incorporating Michael Jordan's Legendary Trash Talk


Both Edwards and Jordan use their intense competitiveness to fuel that defensive effort. They look for any edge that they can get. Edwards clearly does not back down from anyone. Edwards had one of the most viral moments of these playoffs after going at Kevin Durant, whom Edwards looked up to growing up. Edwards has even trash-talked about a potential matchup with a prime MJ.


In an interview with Complex, Edwards noted that he was nowhere near Jordan, then almost immediately followed up with a declaration that Jordan wouldn't be able to guard Edwards's One-on-One game. Jordan's jawing was, of course, the stuff of legends. Nobody was spared from his wrath, not even extras on the set of Space Jam. 


Even into his 60s, MJ was still trash-talking current players in the league, such as Brandon Miller. Both players have earned Jordan's respect, too. Following Minnesota's Game 1 victory against Phoneix in the 2024 NBA playoffs, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith shared a phone call in which Jordan called Edwards "Special". The similarities between the two are strong enough that even MJ has acknowledged them. They will continue to grow as Edwards gets better every year.