Is Andrew Wiggins a Lock to Go No. 1 Overall in 2014 NBA Draft?
LeBron James was a lock to go No. 1 in the draft. Titanic was a lock for best picture of the year. A Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries divorce was a lock.
Andrew Wiggins isn't.
He is, however, the favorite. But his competitors won't make it easy.
2014 isn't just the year of Andrew Wiggins. Julius Randle will have a major say in who goes No. 1 in June's upcoming draft.
Had Wiggins not been around, Randle would still be considered a prize. You could argue that Randle would have gone first had he been eligible for the 2013 draft, when Anthony Bennett was the first pick.
Wiggins will have a tail this season in Randle that he's not going to shake just by showing up.
And while I'd still take Wiggins today based on his long-term upside, I agree that Randle would be the one capable of changing my mind.
Thanks to his nearly unmatchable physical gifts, Wiggins' ceiling towers over the field. But there are a few reasons why Randle might look more impressive in a one-and-done college season.
Wiggins' Scoring Repertoire Not Quite There
If you're expecting Wiggins to drop 25 a game at Kansas the way Kevin Durant did at Texas, you're fooling yourself.
Wiggins is still a bit raw offensively. He doesn't have the perimeter game that's going to allow him to consistently take over. His handle, perimeter shot-creation and jumper could all use some work.
Right now, Wiggins relies heavily on blowing past defenders and finishing over rim protectors. He's got blurry quickness and trampoline bounce.
But at the college and pro levels, he'll need to be able to counter defenses that clog driving lanes. Wiggins isn't going to get the easy dunks he consistently got in high school.
One of the things that makes scorers like Dwyane Wade or Paul Pierce so unstoppable is their ability to score away from the rim. One on one, the top scorers can get a jump shot off whenever they like, and there's not much a defender can do about it.
Wiggins isn't at the point where he has a go-to move into a jumper. He can rise and fire over defenders, but separating 20 feet away for a clean, balanced look will be challenging.
Here's an example of Wiggins with an isolation scoring opportunity in the McDonald's All-American game. Attacking from the top of the key, Wiggins is looking at his man plus two help defenders on the right.
Despite the help to the right, Wiggins goes to his strong hand and drives straight into traffic. The savvy move would have been crossing over to the left for a step-back jumper in space, but Wiggins doesn't have that tight command of the ball yet.
Instead, Wiggins tries to do what he does best—attack the basket. Only there wasn't a driving lane available to attack.
Wiggins was ultimately forced into an off-balance shot in traffic, while the step-back would have given him a more balanced scoring opportunity.
It wouldn't be out of the question to see Wiggins struggle this year with consistency as a half-court scorer. He's electric in the open floor, but he hasn't yet mastered scoring with the game slowed down.
Motor, Energy, Competitive Drive
Coaches are going to drool over Randle's motor. It's non-stop. While Wiggins sometimes appears to drift, Randle is in constant full-speed-ahead mode.
Randle plays with a competitive drive you can detect just by looking at his face.
Here's a personal favorite example that highlights Randle's motor and effort, as well as his versatility. The end result is meaningless, but it gives you an idea of how he can charm scouts and coaches.
Randle grabs a defensive rebound and initiates the fast break. All 6'9'', 248 pounds of him.
He ultimately takes it coast to coast, finishing the break with a layup—not something many big men can do.
Now under the opponents' basket, Randle never slows down before turning and sprinting back on defense.
And though he's just a fraction too late, he was the only one to get remotely close to preventing an easy layup. This after taking it baseline-to-baseline the other way.
Though it's just one play, it's a play that epitomizes Randle as a competitor. This is an area where Randle has Wiggins—he plays with a higher energy and intensity level.
And with general managers nowadays taking everything into account, the right one might find Randle as the more attractive prospect.
This isn't to downgrade Andrew Wiggins in any way. He's got the chance to be something we haven't seen in a while.
But a lock? That's a word you keep in your pocket until the fat lady starts clearing her throat.
Wiggins is the preseason favorite to go No. 1, but he's not competing in a one-man race.
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