DENVER – Anthony Edwards' stat line from Sunday's game against Denver didn't look like much — just five points to go with four assists.
But in evaluating Edwards' game in the moment and later on film, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders told the rookie that was his best game in an NBA uniform.
"Even if it wasn't your highest-scoring game, that was your best game as an NBA player because of the way he was reading defenses, the things that we've been trying to fast track for him over the last month," Saunders said. "He's a smart kid."
Edwards didn't deny that last part, offering an observation about himself with his typical penchant for a punch line.
"I'm smarter than a lot of people think," Edwards said. "I just look like this."
Edwards said breaking down NBA defenses has been "kind of hard," but he is trying to make the process easier.
"I feel like if there's an open man, just throw it to him," Edwards said. "I feel like it's just that simple. You don't want to make it too hard. Just if it's an open man, throw it to him. If somebody helping, if you're getting double-teamed, somebody got to be open. That's just how I look at it."
Saunders said the Wolves were running plays specifically for Edwards to have the ball in his hands following timeouts in Sunday's game.
"For him to be able to take that information and go against a team that was in the Western Conference finals last year, I look at that as progress," Saunders said. "That's what we're looking for. But you can definitely expect to see 'Ant' handling the ball more as well."
Edwards expects opponents to adjust — especially when they see how smart he is.
"When teams start to realize that, then they'll start to lock in on me more when I'm coming off the screen," Edwards said.
Guard Josh Okogie was to miss his fourth consecutive game because of a left hamstring strain, but Saunders said he was hopeful Okogie would play Thursday at Portland.
Okogie was able to practice Monday, and while he was to sit out Tuesday's game, he is close to a return.
"He has progressed nicely," Saunders said.
Okogie's return should bolster a group that ranked last in the NBA defensive efficiency entering Tuesday.
The Wolves and Nuggets completed a home-and-home series of game as part of the tweaks the NBA has made to its scheduling in the age of coronavirus. Teams will play some opponents more than once in succession or will play multiple games in the same city, as the Wolves did in Los Angeles against the Lakers and Clippers. Other teams the Wolves will play in consecutive matchups over the first half of the season include Golden State, San Antonio, Memphis, Cleveland and Oklahoma City.
Saunders said the experience of preparing for an opponent twice in the same time span is like preparing for games in a playoff series.
"It's not like you're watching five games in between for preparation right now. You're really diving into that one game," Saunders said. "It's a good challenge for our group and it's a good test, especially for our young guys … a good introduction into [a playoff atmosphere] for these guys' careers."