Much has been made of Kansas' woeful start to the season and whether Andrew Wiggins' draft status has been affected, but don't overreact—his name should be the first called by future NBA commissioner Adam Silver in June 2014.
It wasn't certain that the Jayhawks would lose three games all season, and here they are at 6-3 still nearly a month away from the conference slate. It's early, but Kansas' squad full of highly touted playmakers hasn't jelled quite as well as expected.
Thus begins the blame game, with a lot of fingers pointing in Wiggins' direction. But as much as this early season has said about Kansas' national title chances, it should come nowhere near affecting Wiggins' status as the top pick.
The most accurate critiques of Wiggins are either mistakenly overanalyzed or fixable. The first, and perhaps most stated complaint of his game is that he has a rather passive offensive tendency and doesn't take over when needed.
But that's just a product of playing in a Bill Self offense. His signature offenses, like the high-low motion or the 3-out-2-in, don't put wing players—where Wiggins is featured—as a point of emphasis. Big men and point guards play a bigger offensive role, which is why guys like Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor have been studs there while swinger Ben McLemore was labeled a dud.
It also demands more fluidity and spreading the ball around, keeping Wiggins from taking over game after game like many of his stud college counterparts.
Case in point—Duke standout and fellow lottery nominee Jabari Parker jacks up 15 shots on average while Wiggins has only hit that plateau twice and averages 10 per contest. Both stats are a byproduct of the programs' respective systems, and not an indication of Wiggins lacking the 'killer mentality' that so many draft critics are accusing of him.
|Tale of the Tape: Wiggins vs. Parker|
|Andrew Wiggins||6'8", 200||16.4||.505||5.4/10.8||6.1||1.2||0.8||1.0||1.7|
|Jabari Parker||6'8", 240||22.1||.548||8.2/15.0||7.8||1.8||1.6||1.1||2.9|
|ESPN.com as of Dec. 13|
Parker is more ready for the college game right now, largely because of his size (6'8", 240, 40 pounds heavier than Wiggins) and more refined offensive game. But while he's a formidable defender, Wiggins has future NBA All-Defensive team written all over him, and that will only become more evident when he builds weight onto his lanky, long-limbed frame. We all know that defense isn't always at a premium in The Association, so him not needing that skill taught as much should loom large to NBA decision-makers.
Wiggins is a generational athlete. He possesses jaw-dropping physical traits that few players even in the NBA can rival. Speed is among the toughest adjustments to life in the NBA, and Wiggins will be right up to speed (pun intended) in his first game as a pro.
The Canadian hoopster may be the fastest player in college basketball while boasting the height of an average college center. He can jump out of the gym—a trait that will come in handy when he matures his offensive game and becomes more aggressive.
Check out this video from the LeBron James Skills Academy—notably the dunk at 0:14.
It looked like he hardly jumped, yet he could've head-butted the rim if he wanted. Unreal.
Wiggins has already proved to be deadly in transition against elite opponents like Duke—which his Jayhawks beat before their struggles began. He also posted his first double-double in the loss to Florida, while connecting on four three-pointers (he hadn't surpassed one trey in a game since his debut), so his offense is only getting better.
Oh, and did I mention we're nine games into the season?
Wiggins hasn't put up 20 every night like Parker. He hasn't called his own isolation plays very much. His team has lost more games. But he has a higher ceiling and athletic ability that surpasses that of any player in this class, by far.
When you compare the players themselves and disregard the impact that playing in their respective systems makes, it's really no question as to who the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft should be.