Hey there: Here’s how Edwards is drawing more fouls this season

Part of the audio aesthetic several times in any Timberwolves is the sound of Anthony Edwards yelling, "Hey," when he drives to the basket.

With that exclamation, Edwards is attempting to get a foul call from officials. In previous seasons, he would yell much more than referees would blow the whistle.

"Last year, it was bad," Edwards said. "But this year I get more fouls with the 'hey.' I'm satisfied right now."

That hey-to-foul ratio has narrowed this season, as Edwards has been accomplishing something the Wolves have wanted him to make a priority this season: get to the free-throw line more.

His 6.5 attempts per game are up from 5.3 a season ago but under the eight per game Edwards has as a goal for himself.

Of late, the Wolves haven't needed him to get to the line as much, such as in blowout victories over Orlando and Portland. But before that, Edwards had a five-game stretch from Dec. 26 through Jan. 3 during which he got to the line for 10 attempts or more in each game.

"First thing he's doing is reading the floor better," said Wolves assistant coach Chris Hines, who works with Edwards on a daily basis. "He's seeing the gaps. We try to treat it like a running back, and almost kind of reading low man, reading 1-on-1 situations, reading guys in transition. Are they fanning out? Pulling in? Any time he has a 1-on-1 though, I tell him you got to go. Be aggressive. Attack."

But what's different about Edwards is how he is reacting to contact once he gets to the rim. Hines said the Wolves have worked with Edwards on "showing his arms."

"He's not bringing them too close to his body, and the refs are now seeing [the contact], and he's been getting a lot more calls," Hines said.

Previously, Edwards would keep the ball closer to his body, which makes it harder for officials to see slaps on the arm of his body. Extending his arms gives them an easier view.

"Now they can see that actual contact on his arms, see the contact on his body and [he understands] that when guys are starting to hit you, it's, 'OK to release now,' " Hines said. "Once guys come into your body, release the pressure instead of keeping going into the pressure."

Hines said the coaching staff has told Edwards to "submit to the contact," whereas before his inclination might have been to fight it, especially since Edwards played running back in his youth football days.

"I played football growing up, so [contact] don't really bother me," Edwards said. "I'm bumping them, they bumping me. I feel like my bump is stronger, but now as soon as they touch me, I'm doing what everybody else doing now."

In other words, trying to sell the foul.

"Maybe he's just become a vet now and he's learning these vet tricks," coach Chris Finch said with a smile.

But Finch also added Edwards has been good at changing speeds this season. In previous years, Edwards might go "100 miles an hour" or "crabwalk" to the hoop, with no in-between.

"Now he's got good patience, changes speeds in the middle of his move, kind of changes directions a little bit more too," Finch said.

This approach has been an ongoing adjustment for Edwards, with Hines saying Edwards felt a lot of frustration not getting calls he felt other players were getting. This is why they have altered Edwards' mentality toward receiving contact.

"If you want to keep getting beat up and not getting foul calls, you can keep going and try to muscle through," Hines said. "But if you want to become a productive player, get our team in the bonus, you have to understand how to utilize contact. How to utilize your speed and power in different ways."

That doesn't mean Edwards is totally happy with the officiating. Edwards is tied for eighth in the league with six technicals. The "hey" comes first, then maybe he claps at the officials, which even Edwards said can be "excessive." That draws an automatic technical foul. Edwards may also extends his arms and say, "Where's the foul?" while adding an expletive, and suddenly he's getting T'd up.

"The arm flair is the next thing we have to take out," Hines said. "You can't be scaring everybody like this. Big angry dude coming at you, it's a tech."

But Edwards also doesn't mind they are blowing the whistle more for him than they ever have.

"I worked on it all summer because that was an emphasis," Edwards said. "Being able to draw fouls, get to the line, stop the clock, especially when we're down, I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it right now."