The Cleveland Cavaliers will likely have the ninth pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 26th. Today, we profile Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Andrew Wiggins
Weight: 197 lbs.
Honors: 2014 All-America 2nd Team, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, All-Big 12 1st Team
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 44.8 FG%, 34.1 3PT%, 77.5 FT%
Andrew Wiggins is the most tantalizing prospect in this year’s draft. As far as wing prospects go, he basically has the potential to be the most complete player we’ve seen in years. Excellent on both offense and defense, Wiggins has the potential to be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. There are questions about his ceiling, due to a questionable killer instinct and a passive approach offensively. Even with that, there’s really no denying the fact that the team that drafts Andrew Wiggins is going to get an All-Star.
Wiggins basically brings everything to the table that you would want in a small forward. He’s 6’8” with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s a little slight of frame, but he is only 19, so he has the room to grow. Wiggins is an incredible athlete, and this is his major draw. By now you’ve probably seen some variation of the Wiggins vertical jump meme (here’s my personal favorite), and it’s just awe-inspiring to watch him play because of his athleticism. Wiggins can jump out of the building, is incredibly quick of his size, and has great lateral quickness, which lends to some fun defensive plays like weakside steals and Wiggins blocking three-point attempts. The amount of ground Wiggins can cover is insane, and that athleticism alone would probably be enough to make him a top 3 pick in most drafts.
Wiggins was slightly erratic at times on the offensive end at Kansas, but he still has a lot of talent, and should be able to grow into a dominant offensive player. Wiggins is at his best when he attacks the basket, either in transition or off offensive rebounds. He can basically finish over anyone due to his length and explosiveness, and any play where Wiggins gets to put his hands on the rim is a positive one. Wiggins also has developed the ability to score consistently on off-ball cuts, and is a growing spot-up shooter. Wiggins can do a lot with spot-up opportunities, as he’s a good, fluid shooter, but can also attack out of these opportunities as his quick first step helps him beat close-outs and turn them into drives to the rim. Basically, any play where Wiggins doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a good one. On the ball, Wiggins isn’t great at this point, but he has potential. The biggest immediate improvement Wiggins needs to make is with dribbling. Like Victor Oladipo last year and Harrison Barnes two years ago, Wiggins is slightly turnover prone, and struggles to create off the bounce. Wiggins is a better isolation scorer due to his length and shooting stroke, but the concerns are still relatively equally present. Wiggins also isn’t a great passer, and doesn’t have the best court vision, which could be an issue. However, I think the passing will come, and the shot creation should improve. Wiggins is going to be an effective offensive player; even if it comes from off-the-ball ability for a majority of his production, the production will still probably be high.
Wiggins has great potential as an on-ball defender. He has the length and athleticism to contain big wings, and the quickness to be able to shut down quick guards. His understanding of positioning is solid, and he has great footwork in guarding the pick-and-roll and on drives to the rim. Wiggins isn’t the best off-ball defender, but that’s mostly due to his youth, and he’s good enough to be able to play passing lanes occasionally and to affect shots in spot-up defense. He could also be considered a potential rim protector due to his length and athleticism, although he’ll need to get stronger before he’s asked to guard posts or float in the paint as a rim protector. However, the potential for him on this end is probably limitless.
The few drawbacks associated with Wiggins are all about whether he can reach his potential or not, due to a passive demeanor on offense. Wiggins often allowed teammates to take control of the game at Kansas, particularly notable in the Jayhawks’ loss to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. There are those who believe that Wiggins won’t ever develop that so-called “killer instinct,” and that his peak will be more Andre Iguodala than LeBron James. These concerns are probably completely overblown, however. Wiggins is 19. He still has a lot to learn, and that’s something that he’ll learn as he continues to develop. Kevin Durant didn’t have that instinct fully developed when he came into the league. Neither did LeBron James or Kevin Garnett. These young guys take a little bit of developing and experience before they turn into the so-called “cold-blooded killers” that basketball fans believe stars need to be. Wiggins will get there, just like everyone else.
Scottie Pippen is the perfect comparison for Wiggins. They both have similar frames, and Pippen was always a lower usage off-ball scorer who could dominate defensively. The major difference between the two is that Pippen was a much better passer than Wiggins probably ever will be. However, that type of box score-stuffing and all-around defensive capability is exactly what Wiggins should look like. I envision Wiggins’s peak to be a more sustained version of Pippen’s 93-94 season without Jordan, when he transformed from support player to high-usage primary scorer and almost won MVP.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Wiggins would be a fairly ideal compliment for the Cavs’ core, especially on the perimeter. While Wiggins isn’t the type of shooter the Cavaliers need, he could really help the offense off the ball, scoring on backdoor cuts, in transition, and out of the PNR. The big impact Wiggins would make is on the defensive end, where he would be able to guard the opponents’ best scorer from point guard to power forward, and he would be able to bail out Kyrie Irving by being able to be switched onto the ball primarily, similar to what the Warriors do with Andre Iguodala to let Steph Curry roam. This would also be a great dynamic chemistry wise, as it would allow the Cavs to have a player who is better than Kyrie, but still allow Kyrie to be the alpha scorer in late-game situations. It’s not a perfect fit, mainly due to Wiggins not being a great shooter and the Cavs desperately needing consistent rim protection, but Wiggins makes sense for almost any team, so the Cavs would be smart to take him if they landed a top-three pick.