Is Edwards really the next Jordan?

Anthony Edwards and Michael Jordan head to head
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships in his career, winning three in a row, twice [Getty Images]

It's a comparison that has followed 22-year-old Anthony Edwards throughout the Minnesota Timberwolves' NBA play-off run.

But as the seconds ticked down on a dramatic series win over the Denver Nuggets, the guard waved their disappointed fans goodbye - and you started to see it. Right there was a glimpse of the look and mindset of one of the greatest basketball players of all time - Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

Now Edwards has a chance to take the Timberwolves to their first NBA championship as they gear up to take on the Dallas Mavericks, led by Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, in the Western Conference final series. Game one is on Wednesday night (01:30 Thursday BST).

A lot of players in years gone by have been held up as the next Jordan. Edwards, though, could end up being the closest we get.

Anthony Edwards blows past Nikola Jokic to the basket
Edwards averaged 27.7 points against the Nuggets across the series [Getty Images]

What Edwards does have in common with Jordan is a relentless mindset matched with an incredible skillset.

There's a confidence in his make-up - and a determination to bounce back from setbacks.

Over and over again in the Netflix documentary The Last Dance, Jordan talks of taking things personally. When things didn't go his way, when something or someone upset him, he used it as motivation. It was an outlook that took him to six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.

Things have not always gone Edwards' way in this year's play-offs. It has only made him more determined.

On 14 May, the Timberwolves' dream was fading. They had just lost 112-97 in Denver. They trailed 3-2 in their Western Conference semi-final series.

Two Timberwolves victories, including a recovery from 20 points down in game seven, turned it all around.

In the media conference after that win, a reporter had a question for Edwards. He asked: "Did you tell the locker room staffer in Denver you were going to be back for game seven?"

Edwards was in before the questioner had finished.

"Hell yeah," he said. "I was in there. They know. I told them: I'll see you for game seven."

That confidence, matched with his tier-one ability, has forced the league to take notice.

With his turnaround fadeaways, a silky mid-range game and dunks that have an uncanny similarity to Michael Jordan's brand logo, it is easy to see how the comparisons from fans and media have formed.

He has a way to go. He has only played 22 play-off games with an average 28.5 points - Jordan, in his first 22, had an average of 35.4 points.

But he is so confident in his ability that when asked whether Michael Jordan could guard him, the response was:

"Hell, no."

Jordan was also known for sending the big stars home - Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton to name a few.

Edwards already has massive scalps on his mantle - the Phoenix Suns' Kevin Durant, who the Timberwolves swept in round one, and the recently crowned MVP Nikola Jokic.

The latter was seen going back and forth with Edwards after that wave to the Denver crowd in their conference semi-final decider.

Anthony Edwards talking with Nikola Jokic on the court
Nikola Jokic was voted the 2024 Regular Season MVP [Getty Images]

Both Edwards and Jordan have had to deal with family loss.

Edwards' mother, Yvette, and grandmother, Shirley, both died of cancer in the space of eight months in 2015.

He sat at the 2020 NBA draft, at which he was named the number one pick, with a mural of both women.

Anthony Edwards congratulated by his family as he's drafted number one in the 2020 NBA draft. He stands in front of two murals, one of his late mother and one of his late grandmother
Edwards was raised by his siblings following the passing of his mother and grandmother [Getty Images]

Jordan retired from basketball for a spell after his father James was murdered in 1993.

After a stint in Minor League Baseball, he returned to the Bulls in 1995 leading them to three more championships.

Anthony Edwards post game seven against the Denver Nuggets
The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't been to the conference finals since 2004 [Getty Images]

Both players have made a significant impact off the court as well as on it.

Edwards might not be at Jordan's level when it comes to global recognition, but his case to be the face of the NBA is growing with each game.

For a start, the Ant-Man has become a presence in the UK, where his jersey is among the country's 10 NBA best-sellers.

Viewership of Minnesota Timberwolves games in the UK has risen by 24% in the past year.

If he can add Doncic and Irving to that list of scalps as well as a franchise first NBA championship, Edwards could be well on his way to the top of the league.

Watch live the first match of the NBA Eastern Conference finals - Tuesday night's contest between the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics - (UK only) from 01:05 BST on Wednesday, on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, and the BBC Sport website and app.