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What Andrew Wiggins Has to Prove to NBA Scouts and Teams Before 2014 Draft

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What Andrew Wiggins Has to Prove to NBA Scouts and Teams Before 2014 Draft
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With his freshman year at Kansas in the rear-view mirror, widely ballyhooed NBA draft prospect Andrew Wiggins will now prepare for the next step in his career.

The 6'8" small forward was the most highly anticipated prospect coming out of high school since LeBron James, so naturally, there was an undue amount of pressure on him as he joined the Jayhawks in the fall.

His lone year in the NCAA was far from dominant, as he wasn't consistently productive at a high level. However, we got a sampling of his eye-popping explosiveness and long-term potential. He made some incredible plays throughout the season and put together a couple of monster games in early March.

Considering what we've seen from Wiggins in college, what must he prove to NBA scouts and executives leading up to the 2014 draft?

 

Ball-Handling and Shot-Creating in Isolation

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Wiggins is a long-term prospect, so teams aren't terribly worried if he's not entirely prepared skill-wise. Since the 19-year-old won't hit his prime for another couple of years, they hope he'll be substantially more polished by then.

However, they would love to see as much ball-handling ability and shot-creating prowess as he can provide during predraft scrimmages and drills.

Over the course of the season, Wiggins had mixed results with his one-on-one exploits off the dribble. He showed flashes of splitting defenders and creating separation with spin moves and step-backs, but he also coughed the ball up more than an NBA prospect should.

Against good pressure defense on the perimeter, Wiggins' dribbling wasn't as tight or strong as it could be.

Even into March, ball-handling stood out as the biggest deficiency in his game.

His inability to consistently break down his man off the bounce hurt the Jayhawks' chances of winning the Big 12 tournament and advancing in the NCAA tourney.

Like I mentioned above, this deficiency won't be enough in itself to scare clubs away. However, front offices that are considering drafting him No. 1 overall would like to see as much productivity and efficiency as he can muster early on.

The sooner he can attack creatively on a nightly basis, the sooner their teams can climb out of the basement and into contention.

If he can demonstrate advanced ball-handling skills during three-on-three or five-on-five drills at private workouts, it could enhance his draft-night value.

 

Strength

Not unrelated to Wiggins' shaky ball-handling skills is his slender physique and less-than-powerful style of play.

The bad news is that he's currently too weak to impose his will at the NBA level. The good news is he's got three months until the draft and seven months until the start of the 2014-15 season.

Time to pump some iron. You know, because being a professional athlete is now his job.

Wiggins is currently listed at 200 pounds on ESPN.com. Assuming he's actually around that weight these days, he could stand to gain about 25 pounds in order to be as effective as possible.

Most 6'8" forwards in the NBA are at least 215-220 pounds, and many of the most effective ones are in the 230-240-pound range.

He's not going to gain that kind of weight overnight, but 25 pounds within the next six months is doable. It's not unreasonable to set a goal of gaining 10-15 pounds before the draft combine measurements and then another 15-20 from early summer through training camp.

The extra muscle and power are going to help him drive through defenders, stay balanced more often and finish effectively through contact at the rim.

By beefing up a little, he'll look much more like a viable featured weapon and franchise building block.

 

Assertiveness/Alpha-Dog Approach

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When evaluating Wiggins, the biggest questions don't revolve around his physical tools, skill set or what he could potentially do from a talent standpoint.

NBA minds are more focused on his mental makeup and approach to the game. Since he's a possible No. 1 pick, rebuilding teams want to be sure he's got the DNA of a franchise cornerstone.

Bleacher Report NBA Assistant Editor Ethan Norof and NBA Draft Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman agreed that the concerns surrounding Wiggins boil down to this basic inquiry:

On numerous occasions during his freshman campaign, Wiggins seemed all too comfortable being a supplementary player and operating on the periphery. He scored in single digits in six games and posted 13 or fewer points in 10 different contests.

He didn't consistently call for the ball, and when he caught it, he didn't consistently turn and look to be an attacker.

Considering his physical tools, that kind of approach to the game is unacceptable if he wants to be a premier draft pick and featured cog. NBA suitors want to draft someone who could potentially lead them to a championship, even if he's not in the same class as LeBron James or Tim Duncan.

One scout talked to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders about Wiggins' in-game demeanor:

I’m not sure about his body language. He’s not a pouter or anything, but it just seems like he’s either happy or overwhelmed. I’d like to see him get angry and fired up. I really haven’t seen any competitive emotion from him.

Every so often, he’ll make an incredible move and then you just don’t see it again for a long time. That consistency has to improve.

This is an issue that Wiggins can't entirely resolve between now and the draft because his freshman season's body of work is complete. He can, however, do his best to confidently assure teams during interviews and play an aggressive brand of basketball throughout team workouts.

Not every player has the personality of an assassin like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Nevertheless, clubs will want to see more competitiveness and assertiveness from the much-hyped athlete.

 

Dan O'Brien covers the NBA Draft for Bleacher Report.

Follow him on Twitter: @DanielO_BR

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