I’m torn when it comes to Andrew Wiggins and his NBA future.
On one hand, I’d love to see Wiggins alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It would be fun to watch Wiggins grow and adapt with the greatest player in the world as his teammate as he aspires to take over that mantle, perhaps.
On the other hand, it’s a no-brainer that the Cavs should trade Wiggins if they have a chance to
acquire big Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Love will never be the greatest player in the world. But he’s already a proven NBA star who can score and rebound and he would fit perfectly with James and young point guard Kyrie Irving to give Cleveland the kind of trio that could lead a team to an NBA championship.
Wiggins is an unknown. We think we know he’ll become a superstar, but we’re not quite sure. He has the athletic gifts to be great. He can run and jump. He was a very good defensive player during his one season at Kansas, when he averaged 17.1 points per game.
Yet I feel this strange sense of uneasiness about Wiggins. Perhaps it’s because the last time I saw him play, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament against Stanford, he was awful. Wiggins pulled a disappearing act in that game. With a chance to lead the Jayhawks to the Sweet 16, he led them home with a four-point, four-rebound performance while making only one field goal.
Wiggins, of course, had more good games than bad at KU. Yet he had enough bad ones to make you think.
He made 44.8 percent of his shots, but that number was just 43.1 during KU’s final 15 games. And if you take two magnificent games during that stretch out of the equation (41 points on 12-of-18 shooting against West Virginia and 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting against Oklahoma State), Wiggins’ field-goal percentage was below 40 percent . . . 39.5 to be exact.
Wiggins is at times a human highlight reel. But at other times he’s simply human. When he’s shooting the basketball, he doesn’t always make you want more. There are times when he makes you want less.
Which is why, in a perfect world, Wiggins would have stayed at KU to play another season or two for Bill Self. He would have improved as a shooter. He would have improved all aspects of his game.
But I’m being naive. Wiggins was the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The Cavaliers were eager to select him. That was before they discovered that James was ready and willing to return home and eager to bring the Cavs, and Cleveland, a championship.
Wiggins is not a win-now kind of player. It’ll take him time to acclimate. He is not a finished product the way James was when he entered the NBA after his senior season of high school.
That’s why Wiggins looks to be expendable. It’s why he’s the centerpiece of a deal that could bring Love to the Cavaliers later this month. And Cleveland would be acting irresponsibly not to pull the trigger on that trade.
Meanwhile, there’s the matter of Wiggins’ potential. How much is there? How good could he become?
Will he become a perennial All-Star and a multi-time champion? Or will he struggle to find a niche the way former Kansas State All-American Michael Beasley has? Did you know Beasley played for the Miami Heat last season? If so, you probably had to look really hard to find him.
Wiggins is a more focused and determined player than Beasley. He’s a better defender and passer.
But Wiggins had more than a handful of games at Kansas when he didn’t do a whole lot. He failed to make more than five shots in 11 games. He shot only 34 percent from the three-point line.
It would be fascinating to know what James thinks of Wiggins. It was interesting that in the letter in which he announced his decision to return to Cleveland, LeBron didn’t mention Wiggins. He mentioned Irvin and Tristan Thompson, but he didn’t mention Wiggins. It’s led to speculation that James has always considered Wiggins to be on the move for a more proven, win-immediately type of player like Love.
Selfishly, I would love to see Wiggins grow at the feet of James. What a great mentor LeBron would be.
Instead, it appears Wiggins will wind up in Minnesota on a team with no hope of winning much of anything for the foreseeable future.
I’m not sure what kind of player Wiggins will become in the NBA. But I am sure he’d be better off as a wing man for LeBron James than he will as a wing man for Ricky Rubio.