This summer had a different rhythm for Anthony Edwards.
There were earlier wake-up calls, often at 7 a.m. There were days with three workout sessions in one, and then there were the days Timberwolves vice president of sport science and performance Javair Gillett would bring the weight room outside — as in outside in 100 degree Atlanta heat and humidity.
Edwards didn't know what Gillett had in mind.
"I have no clue. I just showed up," Edwards said. "I don't know what he's got in store for the next day. I [might be] lifting with him at 11, and I'm scared, but I'll be here."
That uncertainty wasn't just a joke, it was there by design. The Wolves and those who work with Edwards wanted him to get out of his comfort zone, to push him beyond what he thought he was capable of achieving in workouts.
"He's such a tough cookie. It's hard to really break him," said Edwards' longtime trainer and coach Justin Holland. "When he knows you're trying to break him, he takes that extra leap. He doesn't like for people to see him sweat.
"Javair was pushing the limit, but he never broke. He was doing some pretty amazing stuff."
This is the hope for the Wolves as Edwards enters his third season, that he will continue to do "amazing stuff" maybe even he can't see right now. The third season can be a time of significant growth for young NBA players.
Edwards need look no further than his friend, Memphis guard Ja Morant, who led the Grizzlies from a fringe playoff team to the No. 2 seed and second round of the playoffs a season ago. Edwards comes into this season with lofty expectations to help the Wolves make a similar leap after the team traded for Rudy Gobert.
Who knows what Edwards can do? Maybe even he doesn't know.
Those offseason workouts had a few purposes for Edwards, who averaged 21.3 points in 72 games last season. First, he added about 10 pounds of muscle, which is helping him attack the rim. Edwards wanted to emulate how Philadelphia guard James Harden was building his upper body.
"His arms are pretty cut up," Edwards said. "I was like, 'Javair, I'm trying to get a little definition in my arms.' But I ain't trying to get too big."
Some of Edwards' viral moments on social media included videos of him talking about his favorite foods in postgame news conferences. There was a time in Detroit he didn't take questions until he had placed his postgame McDonald's McChickens order. That, and other bad foods, had to go. Well, at least most of the time.
"Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I'm getting me some fried foods," Edwards said, while adding he would not eat them during the season.
Holland said this summer was the hardest he had ever seen Edwards work.
"The goals for the summer were to just build that habit, build that routine of becoming a professional," Holland said. "Not only during the season but outside of the season."
One area where that showed up last year, Holland said, was in Edwards' management of knee pain that plagued him throughout the season.
"That probably came from not really doing the treatment like he should've been doing," Holland said.
Holland said Edwards needed to spend more time focusing on that aspect of his body.
"When you're 18 and 19 years old, you can just show up and play, you don't even have to stretch. During the NBA season, those things are slowly going to start going away. … He's making sure he is intentional about taking care of his body."
Some of Edwards added muscle were to his hamstrings and quadriceps, so that his knees could have stronger support.
"My knees are feeling pretty good this year," Edwards said. "I don't think I'm going to have any problems."
Translation on the court
When Edwards was little, he wanted to emulate what his brother Antony was doing on the court. Antony was left-handed, so he went left a lot. Edwards, even though he shoots right-handed, did the same.
"Every time I saw him I wanted to be like him," Edwards said. "Every move that he did and he never went right. He always went left. Everything he did in his workouts I did, and he was always going left, so that became my dominant hand."
Edwards has noticed teams are pushing him to his right now, so he worked in the offseason on going right off the dribble.
"I'm just trying to take it as much as I can and I'm trying to get better at it in the preseason," Edwards said.
He's incorporated more a Eurostep, a move that allows a player to change direction, into his repertoire.
"I don't know why [defenders] go for it all the time," Edwards said. "They know the Euro is coming. I only do it because they take away one way so I got to go the other way."
That extra strength and explosion can show up in those moments and around the rim, which is where Edwards still has room for improvement.
"That was one of the main things that he talked about, that everybody was talking about – he needs to finish at a higher level around the rim," Holland said.
Edwards shot 63% on 5.7 shot attempts in the restricted area near the rim last season. If he is going to make a leap, he can be more efficient, like some other players in the league who shoot a similar or higher volume of shots at higher rates, like Morant (7.9 per game, 67%) or Jayson Tatum (5.6 attempts per game, 68%).
Edwards is out to improve his defense, which has always been good on the ball — but not so good off it. Even he knows he needs to pay better attention most of the time.
"Off-ball I'm terrible right now," Edwards said. "... Like I always lose my guy. [Wednesday] versus the Lakers, Lonnie Walker was in the corner, I'm low man. I glanced at him a couple times, then the two times I don't glance, he in the other corner. I'm like, how he get over there?"
Edwards has also been going over with coach Chris Finch what kind of shots he should take. Edwards said Finch prefers him to be analytically pure in his shot attempts – threes, at the rim and free throws.
"He lets defenders off the hook way too much by using [the midrange jumper]," Finch said. "I think him attacking is what makes him special. He's got a burst and explosion and an ability that not a lot of players have."
Edwards still wants to have some room for his midrange game.
"I try to get a couple midranges in there every once in a while, even though Finchy don't like 'em," Edwards said. "… He's like, 'Don't fall in love with the midrange.' I kind of want more midrange than threes. Because the threes just seem so far from the rim to me."
Edwards shot just 35% from the midrange last season. He was a 36% three-point shooter.
More room for growth
Even with his strong first two seasons, there are ways in which Edwards is still growing in his game — and learning about life in the spotlight off the court.
In September, Edwards released a video to his social media in which he directed homophobic comments toward a group of men. He apologized for those comments at the team's media day and pledged to work to mend fences with those he hurt in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"I'm willing to do whatever, whatever it takes to make it right," Edwards said. "To show everybody that I come with respect and that's not who I am. I'm willing to take it as far as I need to."
It remains to be seen how Edwards will specifically do that, and that will be something he will have to work at throughout the season, a season in which the team has expectations and pressure unlike Edwards' first two.
"He got that taste of winning and he got that taste of notoriety during that playoff run," Holland said. "He got that sense of having the city behind you."
Edwards has started garnering attention for his play — he recently was named the 25th-best player in the league in an ESPN poll. But players only move up those rankings toward the top if they win. For the Wolves to do that at a high level, they may need Edwards to smooth the rougher edges of his game and unlock the potential they have seen from day one. Not that Edwards is sweating it, like he was sweating during those summer workouts.
"We the best players in the world in the NBA, and I think you get paid to win games," Edwards said. "So I don't feel any pressure. I can't wait to win games."