The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is quickly approaching. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Today’s profile looks at Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Edward proved he is an impact player on both ends of the floor.
- Height: 6’8”
- WT: 203
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: F
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 32-45
- PTS: 17.2 | Per 40: 20.3
- REB: 6.8 | Per 40: 8.0
- BLK: 1.2 | Per 40: 1.4
- STL: 1.0 | Per 40: 1.2
- FG%: 49.1
- 3P%: 37.8
- FT%: 87.6
Edwards’ skillset is a perfect blend of size, versatility and scoring touch. On offense, he is active off the ball and he creates separation with his above-average burst. When Edwards gets the ball, he utilizes a repeatable shot form that has proven effective at a high volume. His catch-and-shoot percentage clocked in just below the 40-percent mark in his final year at Pepperdine. Inside the arc, the California native elevates quickly, which allows him to generate highlight-worthy finishes at the rim.
Defensively, Edwards has experience guarding players at both forward positions. As a help defender, he has excellent timing that leads to big-time blocks.
It is relatively easy to draw a line between the level of competition in the WCC and Edwards’ draft stock. His game has grown during his time at Pepperdine, but he has also feasted on lower-level competition. When it comes to his basketball skills, his shot mechanics are slightly unorthodox. Edwards loads up to his right and lands in a staggered stance with his left foot set behind his body. It is a functional motion, but that style might require additional space at the next level.
Defensively, Edwards has gotten burned on closeouts. He must do a better job of chopping his steps and staying off his heels once he is set.
Last year, Pepperdine secured their first above-500 record since the 2015-16 season. Edwards’ two-way skills were at the center of that turnaround. He finished with the fourth-most points and rebounds in conference play. That level of output earned Edwards a spot on the First Team All-WCC squad.
Pepperdine did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but they did make the field for the College Basketball Invitational tournament. Edwards ended up winning the Most Valuable Player award in that competition as the Waves took home the CBI trophy.
Due to his two-way potential, Edwards is an interesting prospect to watch as the second round gets underway. He has experience at multiple positions and his defensive versatility should win over most coaching staffs. Offensively, his stellar free throw percentage could lead to further growth in other areas.
The biggest concern for potential suitors is the leap in competition that Edwards will face at the next level.
Edwards’ athletic style at a position of need should capture Olshey’s attention. He fits the description of a player that has experience in multiple roles and he was an effective player on both ends of the floor. On offense, Edwards does not need the ball in his hands to be effective. In half-court sets, he has operated as a roll man and a perimeter option.
If Edwards rises too much further on draft boards, he could slip out of Portland’s reach on draft night. If he slides into the middle of the second round, the Blazers could pounce.