Souhan: Edwards is inspiring comparison to ... you know who

Last year's playoff between the Timberwolves and Nuggets ended with Anthony Edwards missing a shot and tossing a chair.

This year's series between the teams began with Edwards making every kind of shot and suggesting he'll steal a throne.

Maybe the Wolves will prove they deserve one, too.

In Game 1, against the best team and player in the world, the Wolves ran away for a 106-99 victory in Denver on Saturday night.

Remember when Wolves fans were afraid of the Phoenix Suns? Now the defending champions and Nikola Jokic might have reason to fear the Wolves, who are 5-0 in these playoffs.

Edwards scored 43 points in 42 minutes, making 17 of his 29 shots from the field, including 3-for-7 from the three-point line, and going 6-for-6 on free-throw attempts. He added seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks.

He outplayed Jokic throughout and was more of a force than Jokic and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray down the stretch, denting the Nuggets' reputation as the ultimate closers in close games.

Edwards is 22. He will turn 23 in August. During the TNT broadcast, Hall of Famer Reggie Miller asked whether Edwards is already the best two-way player in the game.

Later, Miller and former Wolves guard Jamal Crawford teased each other, seeing who would be the first to acknowledge the looming comparison:

Is Edwards becoming the closest we've seen to Michael Jordan since Michael Jordan?

That's probably an insult to the great LeBron James, but the comparison isn't simply about excellence. It's about attitude. James is a great competitor and champion, but Jordan's killer instinct loomed over the entire sport.

Can Edwards justify such comparisons?

He just scored 35 or more for a third consecutive road playoff game. He is the best player on a team that is threatening to upend the NBA's — or at least the Western Conference's — hierarchy. He handles the ball down the stretch, gets his teammates involved, and started this game guarding Murray and forcing Murray to look momentarily inept.

Jordan spent his first year in the league with the Chicago Bulls as a spectacular dunker, and his second season dealing with injuries. Not until he turned 23 did he become the player we remember.

Edwards is rapidly maturing before our eyes.

He played well in last year's series against the Nuggets, then displayed both his immaturity and competitive fire by flinging a chair as he left the final game in Denver.

Now he's dominating exceptional competition, averaging about 40 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the last three playoff games.

Edwards' spectacular second-half performance will be remembered by Timberwolves fans, but he was even more important in the first half, when most of his teammates looked like they had either stage fright or altitude sickness.

Edwards scored 25 of his team's first 37 points, buoying them when they needed him just to stay in the game.

In the second half, he displayed his full repertoire, making three-pointers, shaking defenders off with rapid-fire dribbling, snaking to the rim, and sometimes running his own one-man fast break.

"It's tough here, man," Edwards told TNT's Allie LaForce. "The altitude, their team, their crowd."

Edwards and Kobe Bryant are the only two players with consecutive 40-point games at age 22 or younger in NBA postseason history.

Naz Reid was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns provided spurts of offense when the Wolves desperately needed it, as did Mike Conley.

But none of that would have mattered if Edwards wasn't playing well enough to make Michael Jordan's contemporaries contemplate comparing Edwards to the man who might be the greatest basketball player who ever lived.

Should they be willing to say it out loud?

Not quite yet.

Jordan won six NBA titles. Edwards is coming off his first playoff series victory. He has a long way to go.

But the comparison is worth tracking.

If Edwards winds up with a championship before he turns 23, who knows what his future holds? And who would want to miss a minute of it?

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.