There was a time, honestly, when Kyle Anderson thought he might not play basketball again.
In the third quarter of the fourth game of the Timberwolves' first-round playoff series with Denver last year, Anthony Edwards inadvertently hit Anderson in the face. His left eye injured, Anderson missed Game 5. For a while he thought he might miss basketball for good.
"I had to be strong for my family, really," he said. "Everyone in my family was kind of spooked and I didn't show them I was spooked. But it was definitely tough. I was hearing that I don't know if I'd ever be able to play again."
He met with Dr. Stephen Schwartz at UCLA, who assured Anderson that he'd play again. And, after surgery, he did. He was able to play for China at the World Cup.
But there is no question Edwards has affected Anderson's life. First there was the freak injury. And then Anderson gave Edwards his No. 5 to wear this year.
"That crushed me," Anderson joked. "Naw, I have no problems giving it to Ant or any of my teammates honestly."
That is a small issue compared with what Anderson has been through. He's back playing, even of he doesn't see that well in the dark.
"I'm getting better with it," Anderson said at the team's media day Thursday. "It was obviously rough like early July, late June. I'm playing pickup in these small New Jersey gyms, it's dark, and I can't see a thing. But it's gotten a lot better now. I'm sure an NBA arena, with great lighting, it should be fine."
Focusing on the court
About to enter his fourth season, his right hand — broken while punching a wall in the Wolves' regular-season finale — healed, having grown more than an inch over the summer, Jaden McDaniels said he was ready to take another step on the court.
The rest he doesn't think about.
A contract extension for McDaniels is looming. President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said Thursday it was a priority. But the only future McDaniels is thinking about is the upcoming season.
"Really, I've been focused on basketball," he said. "I'm working out. I know the contract thing is there. But I just try to let my agents handle it and continue to get better as a player."
He worked hard on his ballhandling over the summer and finding good places to get his shot. Any offensive improvement would augment his status as one of the team's best perimeter defenders.
"Oh, Jaden is the most important person on the team, for sure," Edwards said. "Because he has the most potential. I think the world knows we wouldn't be Minnesota Timberwolves without Jaden McDaniels."
Plus, he's bigger. McDaniels, 22, was listed at 6-9 last year. Today?
"I'm probably like 6-10½," he said. "It's 11 almost."
A big summer
Edwards had quite the summer. He got his extension, starred for Team USA in the World Cup. Recently, at an event for him getting his first signature shoe — with Adidas — his native city of Atlanta unveiled a huge mural of Edwards, one that also featured his late mother and grandmother. What does he remember most? "The highlight of my offseason probably was the mural," he said. "I think that was more important than everything for sure."
Edwards also retold the anecdote of working out for the Golden State Warriors before the 2020 NBA draft. He ultimately went first overall to the Wolves. But he was told by Warriors coach Steve Kerr during that workout that he needed to work harder. "He's like, 'You should see Steph [Curry], KD [Kevin Durant] and Klay [Thompson] work out," Edwards said.
Edwards took it to heart and the rest is history, including Kerr's praise of Edwards during the World Cup.
Pressure, what pressure?
Edwards, when asked about any pressure he might be feeling entering the season: "Naw, not at all, I've got big KAT," he said of center Karl-Anthony Towns. "Big KAT's a superstar, man. He's going to be like one of the best players in the league this year. He's going to take a lot of pressure off me so yeah, I'm putting a lot of pressure on him."