With the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins after much speculation over the past several days.
Let me get this out of the way: there isn’t a bigger Jabari Parker fan than Jim Pete.
For two years, I pined for the Cleveland Cavaliers to have the opportunity to draft Parker in this draft. In my head, he was the next LeBron James.
But, something happened over the past two weeks. Perhaps it was watching all the YouTube videos in which he left defenders picking up their shorts. It might have been when I learned about his out of this world basketball IQ from living in a household in which his father, Mitchell Wiggins, a 20-year pro basketball veteran, also lived. Maybe it was seeing his freak 7’0″ wingspan. Perhaps it was his staunch defense ability, that is borderline NBA-elite already.
It was all of the above, combined with the fact that his already decent offense, along with the rest of his game, is in its infancy.
I switched my allegiance from Parker to Andrew Wiggins.
There likely isn’t all that much difference between the two, and they never really distanced themselves from each other at any point during the season, or after, but I think there is enough similarity now, and enough upside later, for Wiggins to be the better NBA player than Parker sooner than people think.
While Jabari Parker was considered the safer pick by many, Andrew Wiggins seems to be the guy with the most upside. Wiggins is a superior defender, and he’s a superior athlete. He plays long, he is the king of transition, isn’t the shabby shooter that many think he is, and can attack the hoop as well as anyone in the draft.
He has basketball in his blood, as his father, a Kinston, North Carolina native, was a former first round pick by the Indiana Pacers, and ended up playing for the Bulls, Rockets and 76ers, and had a 20-year career that spanned across the globe.
Wiggins is a physical freak, who can get off the floor with the best currently in the NBA. The ONLY question about Wiggins in a realistic sense is whether or not he’s as good as Parker. While experts talk about his killer mentality, or perhaps, the lack thereof, I don’t quite buy it.
People question Wiggins motor, and many wonder if he’s the guy that can lead a team, and not just play to the level of the competition.
Both Wiggins and Parker have been compared to LeBron James at one time or another, but Wiggins may ultimately be the guy that is the game changer that LeBron currently is because of his physical attributes and potential.
Wiggins is 6’8” and 200 pounds with that 7-foot wingspan, and a vertical that is more than 40-inches. While his offensive strength is taking the ball to the hoop, he has shown the ability to spot up and shoot, even though many think that it’s ultimately going to be a weakness initially entering the league.
However, he’s a devastating player when it comes to the transition game, which could make players like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett even better. Think about this…what happens when Wiggins steals the ball and heads down court? What happens when he gives the ball to Irving, with Waiters and Wiggins rolling to the hoop?
I just don’t believe the people that say, “it’ll take three years for the Cavs to reap Wiggins’ benefits.” He’s just too good for that to happen. Wiggins skill-set defensively make him an immediate impact player with the Cavs, and I really believe his movement off the ball will prove to fit David Blatt’s offense…as he learns it. Can’t wait for his questioned motor to be put to the test. My guess is that it’s all ado about nothing.
Regardless of what the experts believed, Andrew Wiggins is the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I couldn’t be happier.