Anthony Edwards might bristle at how the NBA world is talking about Karl-Anthony Towns’ injury and not him. At least, that’s what the spectacle of his play since Towns went down suggests.

From head-banging blocks and message-sending stops to 44-point pour-overs, Edwards has kept the Timberwolves afloat through the first four games of a tricky six-game trip. 

In the days following the reveal that Towns would need surgery for a torn left meniscus, the NBA media world roundly wrote off the Timberwolves. Towns will be re-evaluated in four weeks and Minnesota remains hopeful he can return for the playoffs, according to multiple reports. But even a first-round win in the West will be challenging no matter Minnesota’s record to this point. If the Timberwolves’ season is indeed over, Edwards might be the last to know.

There are a lot of red flags and blinking lights in Minnesota, but unearthing a bona fide, capital-S, Superstar like Edwards has a way of quieting even the most urgent of alarms. The Towns injury is no doubt a bummer, and concerns about Minnesota’s playoff viability are sound, but don’t let those things in the foreground distract from the fact – a fact that Edwards has crystalized this season – that the Timberwolves have the most valuable and rare thing in the NBA: A star. 

The 22-year-old is already a two-time All-Star and is averaging career-highs in points (26.4), field-goal percentage (46.3) and assists (5). He is the only player younger than 25 to average as many points this season.

If there was a critique of Edwards’ game through his first three seasons, it was that he was prone to the occasional 3-for-11, single-digit, blah scoring night. Those have been ironed out over this last month and a half. Edwards has scored in double-digits for a team that ranks 18th in ORTG in every game since the start of February, and he scored at least 30 in eight of those 17 games.

Since Feb. 1, Edwards is fourth in the league in scoring, behind Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

One of the themes of this season has been the emergence of franchise cornerstones like Edwards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyrese Haliburton. What separates Edwards from his contemporaries is that it feels like what Edwards is doing is happening behind the glass of a black-and-white television while everybody else is operating in technicolor. 

Gilgeous-Alexander’s Thunder are ruthlessly modern. He operates Mark Daigneault’s offense that has Chet Holmgren spacing the floor and Jalen Williams emerging as a co-star. Haliburton’s Pacers are setting a new standard for pace. Doncic captains the kind of heliocentric offense developed by James Harden’s math-busting Rockets.

While other stars enjoy the boundless expanse of the modern game, Edwards is prowling through whatever space he can find in two-big lineups and an offense short on spacing.

Where the Thunder are built to give SGA a runway to the basket, Edwards far too often has to stop short of the paint, where Rudy Gobert and opposing defenders have taken up residence. Yet it doesn’t stop him. At the risk of hyperbole, watching Edwards feels like stepping into a time machine and watching the early days of Michael Jordan or Dwyane Wade.

Beyond the necessary offensive output, Edwards’ most memorable plays this season have been on the defensive end. His game-winning block at the end of last week’s game in Indiana might be the block of the year. Edwards chased down Aaron Nesmith and leaped higher than he claims he ever has, hitting the back of his head on the backboard. 

Then there was the stop on Tuesday night against Clippers star Paul George. Edwards can be a great defender when he wants to be and after the Timberwolves wiped out a 22-point deficit and tied the game, he wanted to be. Edwards gave no quarter, forced six dribbles and plucked the ball away before scoring on the other end to take the lead. 

The Timberwolves are 2-2 since Towns went down in large part because of these defensive stands. They are the kind of plays that showcase his top-1% athleticism and his bullseye determination – a combination when paired with his skill that makes Edwards’ star power undeniable. And, of course, there is the billion-watt personality.

When the sideline reporter after the third quarter asked what he “was seeing out there.” 

“Just a bunch of mismatches,” Edwards replied.

Like, are you kidding me?

It’s hard to remember a star quite like Edwards. Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise was steady and with two teams. Doncic’s stardom was imported and instant, much like Victor Wembanyama’s. 

Edwards seems bound for the old model (made popular by Jordan) where the franchise-altering talent long precedes the success. Edwards’ Pistons will be the Nuggets and Thunder, and Towns might not be his Pippen.

It will be difficult for Edwards and the Timberwolves to get over the hump, but doing difficult things is what Superstars are for. Edwards is the first No. 1 pick to fully deliver on that star-power promise and set a new course for his franchise since the Pelicans took Anthony Davis in 2012.

Here are the top picks since then: Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, Towns, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Deandre Ayton and Zion Williamson, before Edwards. Not even Williamson appears to be on the path of potentially becoming the face of the league. (Paolo Banchero and Wembanyama, the last two first-overall selections, are also well-positioned.)

There will be plenty of pressure for the Timberwolves to get this right. Questions about their roster construction and payroll will only intensify if they get bounced early in the playoffs. Those questions, eventually, will have to be answered. For now, though, Timberwolves fans can take solace in the fact that they have an answer for the league’s hardest question: Do we have a player who, one day, can lead us to a championship?