Which Bad NBA Team Is the Best Fit for Andrew Wiggins?
Andrew Wiggins' NBA destination hinges on lottery ping-pong balls and the whims of the franchises with the first couple of picks in the 2014 NBA draft.
He may wind up in a great situation, getting picked by a club on a collision course with success. He could also get stuck with an underachieving, incompatible roster or in a less-than-ideal city.
So out of all the weak, lottery-bound teams in the NBA, which one is the best fit for Kansas' star forward?
There are a small handful of critical elements that determine the proper spot for him. Salary cap space and assets are important, but so is the core of the current team. Off-the-court factors should also be considered.
Where is the ideal place for this blue-chip prospect? Let's look.
Potential Landing Spots
A swarm of NBA franchises would love to snag Andrew Wiggins, but only a few will be bad enough to have a favorable chance to land him.
Here's the group of teams that are projected to finish in the top half of the lottery and have a draft pick to use in 2014: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.
Of that small handful of clubs, we can already weed out a few that would obviously not be ideal fits for him (or wouldn't pick him). Chicago's future still revolves around Derrick Rose for now, Milwaukee is just too weak to warrant consideration and Sacramento already has DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Cleveland, Orlando and Utah are all intriguing options. They all have young talent in place and would be good teams for Wiggins to join, but they don't hold the attractiveness that our top two candidates possess.
Those top two fits are Philly and Toronto. But which one is best?
Salary Cap Space: Philadelphia 76ers
Salary cap space is critical to building or rebuilding a legitimate contender, and if Andrew Wiggins wants to win, he'll need more help than what Philly or Toronto currently have on their rosters.
Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri and 76ers GM Sam Hinkie are both bright, shrewd executives, but Hinkie is working with much more cap room in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Entering the 2014 offseason, the Sixers could have anywhere from $22.0 million to $28.6 million committed to 2014-15. That gives them more than enough cash to sign Wiggins to a rookie-scale deal and hire outside help via free agency.
In addition, Philadelphia might get the New Orleans Pelicans' top-five protected pick.
The team that invests their future in Wiggins will want to surround him with the best possible supporting cast. Toronto will be able to help him out a little bit in the short term, but not as much as Philly.
*Salary projections via ShamSports.com, not accounting for any potential mid-season trades.
Location and Surroundings: Toronto Raptors
This one is a no brainer, as Andrew Wiggins grew up in the greater Toronto area.
Getting drafted by the Raptors would afford him a uniquely convenient situation. During preseason, practice time and half of the regular season, the teenage rookie would be a stone's throw away from his hometown of Thornhill, Ontario.
Every aspiring athlete dreams of being the hometown hero, and Wiggins already told the Toronto Sun that he would like to play for the Raps.
Surviving and thriving as a young professional during the first couple of years in the NBA isn't always easy, so familiar surroundings are a huge plus for someone like Wiggins. Many of his off-court tasks will be much easier, plus his family will be around to support him and keep him grounded.
With apologies to all the wonderful U.S. cities out there, Toronto is the only NBA town that is home. That definitely counts for something.
More on the hometown advantage later.
Young Talent and on-Court Compatibility: Philadelphia 76ers
Both the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers have young standouts on their rosters, but which group would be better for Andrew Wiggins?
Toronto's primary long-term assets are Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan, so they offer a strong interior presence and a dynamic shooting guard. Philadelphia counters with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, along with the potential of retaining Evan Turner.
While Noel's health is a question mark and Turner's return isn't guaranteed, Carter-Williams is the key piece that makes the Sixers a superb fit for Wiggins. Toronto doesn't really have a star point guard for the future yet.
If Wiggins arrives in Philly, Carter-Wiliams will shoulder the facilitating duties and also take some of the scoring pressure off Wiggins. All the forward would have to do is let the game come to him, work to get open and use his instincts on the wing.
Coach Brett Brown runs an uptempo style that would allow Wiggins (along with athletic forwards Thaddeus Young and Noel) to flourish in the open floor. Kansas' one-and-done star would be a featured weapon, but he wouldn't be burdened by the task of carrying the team.
Marketability: Toronto Raptors
The City of Brotherly Love is a vibrant sports town with overflowing passion for winning, so Andrew Wiggins would be highly marketable if he excelled on the court for the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, the Toronto Raptors would make him a hometown hero and a Canadian national hero all rolled into one. His stardom and brand as Canada's hoops leader would explode if he donned Raptors red.
The franchise would make a boatload of money based on Wiggins' presence, but Wiggins would make a fistful himself and create one of the most unique stardoms in sports.
He is the "unquestioned face of Canadian basketball," according to Blake Murphy of ESPN.com, so if he landed in Toronto, he would instantly fortify and expand Canada's hoops fans amid a hockey-dominant culture.
He would be an inspiration to an entire country, and who wouldn't want to be an inspiration?
The instant results would be fun, with the long-term potential even more exciting.
Best Fit: Philadelphia 76ers
Ultimately, basketball reasons trump off-the-court reasons.
This might not be a popular answer north of the border, but the Philadelphia 76ers would be the best fit for Andrew Wiggins.
They have a terrific new coach in Brett Brown, who has solid-gold experience from the San Antonio Spurs. They also have captivating cornerstones to help Wiggins build a winner. Finally, they have the financial resources to become even stronger in the near future.
When LeBron James was looking for his best fit in 2010, he could have chosen his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers or he could have picked New York, the media mecca that would have made him more globally popular.
But he made the best basketball decision, deciding to enhance his reputation by first succeeding on the hardwood. His situation isn't quite analogous to that of Wiggins, but the point is that Wiggins' best fit among the NBA's bad teams is the one that makes the most basketball sense in Philadelphia.
Dan O'Brien covers the NBA draft for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @DanielO_BR