Here's the thing: it's not that Andrew Wiggins has been disappointing. He's looked pretty darn good to me—15.9 points a game, 47 percent shooting, as-good-as-advertised athleticism.
But Wiggins' grip on the draft race isn't as tight as it once was. And at this point, his chances of regaining surefire No. 1 status might be out of his control.
Credit that to his competition. Wiggins isn't the only one in the country to offer No. 1 overall upside. And a few of his competitors appear to have a head start in their journeys to reaching it.
Would you want to be the general manager who passed on Jabari Parker after what could be a historic season at Duke?
When you compare Wiggins to Parker, you have two prospects with similar superstar ceilings, only one of them is a lot closer to getting there. And there's nothing Wiggins can do to change that.
Now Wiggins can certainly tip the scale back in his favor (not that he should be considered an underdog). I'd say the odds are about even now between Wiggins, Parker and teammate Joel Embiid. But realistically, Wiggins is going to have to hope his direct competitors take some of the weight off the other side. Because as long as Parker, Embiid and Kentucky's Julius Randle keep their feet on the gas, there's just no way Wiggins will be able to separate, and ultimately, reestablish himself as the clear-cut top dog in the class.
I'm sure he'll finish atop plenty of general managers' draft boards. But not all of them, which seemed like the case a few months ago. And for these top prospects, that's the name of the game—to land atop as many draft boards as possible to increase your chances when the lottery is conducted.
For Wiggins to maximize his chances of being the No. 1 pick, he's going to have to pick up his consistency, as well as prove he's capable of making a bigger impact on the game.
The way Parker is for Duke and Randle is for Kentucky, Wiggins needs to become a fixture and dominant presence in the lineup. He's not going to convince anyone he's the obvious top pick in the draft if he takes a backseat every third game.
Compared to Parker and Randle (the other two freshmen candidates playing at least 25 minutes a game), Wiggins has finished the most games with less than five-made field goals. It's a reflection of his vulnerability as an opportunistic scorer—when opportunities aren't always abundant, Wiggins could go long stretches without making an offensive peep.
|Andrew Wiggins, Kansas||5|
|Julius Randle, Kentucky||3|
|Jabari Parker, Duke||0|
On the flip side, Wiggins' lack of a go-to skill set and approach have also kept him from taking games into his hands. He's scored 20 points or more just four times. He did drop 26 on Florida, but 11 of them came in the final three minutes with the game out of reach.
We've seen Randle take control of games. Parker does it every night. We haven't seen Wiggins be able to turn on that switch yet.
|Jabari Parker, Duke||12|
|Julius Randle, Kentucky||5|
|Andrew Wiggins, Kansas||4|
If Wiggins wants to gain back some of his lost supporters, he's gotta show he's capable of making a bigger impact.
With conference play kicking off, maybe he'll find his offensive rhythm. He played well in his last outing against Toledo, making a few nice plays as a half-court scorer, including a one-dribble, pull-up three-pointer, and a couple of electric slices to the rack.
But alternating good games with quiet ones won't help convince anyone that he's the obvious choice at No. 1—not this year, not with so many other attractive options on the board.
"Julius Randle is the real deal," an NBA scout said to Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears. "Jabari Parker is really good. Dante Exum, he was super impressive at the Hoop Summit at practice and is smooth and can shoot it. Marcus Smart, if a team needs a point guard, he can be a high pick, too. This upcoming draft class is outstanding."
At the end of the day, there's just no margin for error here. Unless Wiggins goes on a tear during conference play, or he helps Kansas make a run in the tournaments as a go-to presence, there is still going to be plenty of support for other top prospects on the board.