Prior to the 2020 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors worked out, among other top prospects, Anthony Edwards. They had the No. 2 pick, and at the time, it wasn’t considered an absolute lock that Edwards would go No. 1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. If Edwards did slip, the Warriors may have taken him over James Wiseman. They probably would have, in fact.
And if they did select Edwards, Steve Kerr wanted him to know one thing: He needed to get in better shape. In a recent conversation with Kenny Smith, Edwards told a fascinating story about how shocked he was by the pace of his Warriors workout, which was just a normal day in the gym for the likes of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and what he took from it moving forward.
“I’m doing this drill that they say Steph be doing,” Edwards began. “I’m running, touching the line, shoot. Running, touching the line, shoot. You’ve got to make five in a row. I couldn’t do it. I’m too tired. I’m like, ‘Man, it’s just too much.’ But I’m not saying this, so I’m just jogging. After the workout, Steve [Kerr] comes to me like, ‘You can’t go any faster?’ I’m like, ‘I thought I was going pretty fast.’ He was like, ‘Nah, do it again.
“So now, I’m trying to sprint, and now I’m looking all crazy. Missing left, missing right. So then we go to dinner and he’s telling me, ‘Man, if we’re going to draft you at No. 2, you’ve got to be a hard worker. You ain’t working hard enough.’ I think that was a stumble in the road for me. I called my trainer afterward and was like, hey bro, we gotta change up.
“Steve Kerr told me how Steph and K.D. used to work out super hard,” Edwards concluded. “It might not be long, but it’s super hard when they’re in there. Ever since then is when I feel like I took that next step.”
A couple things: First, Edwards, who was just 19 years old when Minnesota took him No. 1 overall, being humble and coachable enough to take this lesson and immediately apply it to his own workouts is impressive. Plenty of athletes who’ve been stars their whole life take years to get over themselves enough to actually accept criticism, let alone develop the work ethic to apply it when nobody is looking.
During the pre-draft process, it was actually a talking point that Edwards might not love basketball. He was, and is, a freak athlete who could, if he wanted, have a long NBA career on talent alone. The desire to accept coaching and work hard was a choice, and Edwards has already seen the fruits of his commitment as he’s ascended into one of the brightest young stars in the game.
The second takeaway from this is in regards to Curry’s conditioning. It’s the most under-discussed part of his greatness. The guy never stops moving, and unlike a lot of other focal-point offensive stars, he puts in full effort on the defensive end as well. Energy conservation is not a part of his game, and it’s because of workouts like this. He is in world-class shape.
Also note the part about Edwards “looking all crazy, missing right, missing left.” Shooting and shooting on a dead run, when you’re exhausted to boot, are two entirely different things. I remember talking to former sharpshooter Allan Houston about this. Those who can sprint off a screen and catch and shoot without breaking stride are the truly great shooters. There are a lot of guys in the NBA who can make stand-still jumpers.
Edwards didn’t want to be one of those guys. He found out right away that he needed to be able to make shots on a full run, when he was tired, to put himself into the class of players of which the talent is worthy.
Curry’s workouts consists of game shots at game speed. Day after day. Year after year. It kills two birds with one stone, getting him into top shape while also sharpening his already otherworldly shooting skills under adverse conditions. Edwards picked up on that right away. And he put the lesson into use. Good for him. That’s how you become great, and he’s certainly on his way.