Before diving in, it's important to note that Andrew Wiggins isn't the next LeBron James. We're talking different levels of stardom here—two different styles, two different ceilings and certainly two different personalities.
However, both became high-profile athletes before turning 18 years old.
The hype surrounding James out of high school was essentially unprecedented. He helped put recruiting and high school basketball in the spotlight. As a junior, Sports Illustrated splashed James' face across its cover under the title, "The Chosen One." ESPN was featuring his games at St. Vincent-St. Mary on national television.
This was no ordinary No. 1 high school baller. James was practically pegged as the next NBA legend before ever playing a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Check out the numbers he put up as a junior and senior, via LeBronJames.com:
He had the entire package, with a body we had not seen since Magic Johnson's. James had the strength of a 4, the size and mobility of a 3, the scoring arsenal of a 2 and the vision of a point guard. Although Wiggins is very talented, he lacks this all-around versatility.
LeBron James' Measurables and Scouting Report After High School
Weight: 240 lbs.
James had an NBA-ready body coming out of high school. He was the same train in the open floor that he is in the pros today.
Nobody was stopping or slowing James down when he had momentum attacking the rim.
James was a wizard with the ball. He was a dominant scorer but just as effective as a passer. He had the vision and willingness to give it up, making him a playmaker from every position on the floor. And given his size and athleticism, James offered a unique package of skills and unheard-of versatility, via GIFSoup:
James' only true weakness out of high school was shooting, though room for growth was clearly there. He showed mid- and long-range shot-making ability, which allowed him to take over games as a perimeter scorer.
James possessed a potent blend of physical tools, offensive talent and a basketball IQ that was off the charts. Everyone expected James to walk into Cleveland and completely change its direction.
And he did.
Andrew Wiggins' Measurables and Scouting Report
Weight: 197 lbs.
Unfortunately for Andrew Wiggins, a bar has been set for him that shouldn't be there in the first place. And now he's entering his freshman year at Kansas with unrealistic expectations.
Wiggins isn't James, but he does offer NBA star power down the road, and that's always exciting to follow in the early stages.
He's no "chosen one," nor is it likely he wants anything to do with such a label. Unlike James, Wiggins doesn't crave the spotlight. Instead of announcing his decisions on national television, Wiggins quietly told one local reporter where he'd be attending college.
The 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year, Wiggins' upside and NBA appeal is driven by his absolutely stunning athletic ability. He has the spring of a young Tracy McGrady in his prime.
With his mother a former Olympic sprinter and father a former NBA player, Wiggins has some pretty spectacular genetic makeup.
His athleticism is simply effortless. Wiggins elevates off the ground like the floor is his personal trampoline. His athleticism makes him incredibly effective as a finisher. Wiggins can routinely finish over traffic instead of having to fight his way through it.
Wiggins has excellent measurements for an NBA wing, but he lacks the bulk and strength that helped make James tough to contain.
When Wiggins gets to the pros, he's not going to dominate the way James did; James was averaging 27 points a game by his second year in the league.
Wiggins' body isn't quite there yet in terms of absorbing and dishing out physical contact.
Offensively, Wiggins' ability to rise and fire over defenders allows him to get off his own shot despite lacking a refined shot-creating arsenal.
Attacking the rim, Wiggins is shifty off the dribble and slippery in traffic. He can elude defenders at full speed while maintaining body control.
Also, Wiggins doesn't need to control a game with the ball in his hands the way James has been for 12-plus years. Wiggins can make plays off the ball without needing to over-dribble. ESPN recruiting guru Dave Telep has been scouting Wiggins for years now and offered his input on Wiggins' offensive game:
Andrew Wiggins has weapons. Best part is he doesn't have to dominate the ball to impact the game. #eybl— Dave Telep (@DaveTelep) April 28, 2012
While Wiggins is a respected passer, he's taken some criticism for being an unselfish scorer. Many are hoping he develops a cold-blooded mentality, so he can finish games as a closer and be a No. 1 scoring option.
Offensively, Wiggins still has some wrinkles to work out. Most of his offense is generated by athleticism, whether he's skying over defenders at the rim, spinning in the lane for a bucket or knocking down off-balance jumpers.
Nit picking but Andrew Wiggins must cultivate mid-range game. Charted him lots and it's a void in his game. The rest=spectacular— Dave Telep (@DaveTelep) December 21, 2012
He's an adept shot-maker. But creating in between the arc and foul-line extended will be where he ultimately makes his money as a prolific NBA scorer.
Defensively, Wiggins projects as a shutdown asset. Given his physical tools and desire to defend, he's capable of harassing opposing scorers and making them exert additional energy.
Wiggins has tremendous two-way upside, but it's important not to get ahead of ourselves. He's not James or Kevin Durant, two superior prospects coming out of high school.
What Wiggins has is overwhelming natural talent. No one is questioning his character or whether he'll be able to transition to the pros.
Wiggins has the chance at being a routine All-Star and franchise centerpiece, but his ceiling tops out a few stories short of James'.
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