The Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at Wiggins and how he fits with Cleveland:
Bio: Kansas | Freshman | Shooting guard
Vitals: 6-8, 197 pounds
2013-14 stats: 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 44.8 FG%, 34.1 3FG%
Strengths: Wiggins possesses arguably the greatest upside of any player in this draft. Elite quickness, a 44-inch vertical and 7-foot wingspan make the Canadian the most physically gifted player in the class. He averaged 17 points as a freshman without an extremely diverse offensive skill set, dominating in the open floor and also being effective on the offensive glass. A great first step lets him get past defenders, and there’s talk of Tracy McGrady-like upside if Wiggins continues to develop. With his tools, he’s ready to step in on the defensive end from Day 1 and make an impact, even if his shooting and ball skills are still catching up. Wiggins could become an elite two-way player with the right development.
Weaknesses: The biggest question with Wiggins is his consistency. He put on a show in a 41-point game against West Virginia, but scored a measly four against Stanford in an NCAA tournament loss. Which Wiggins will we see more often in the NBA? His lack of aggressiveness could be a red flag, or it could just be his personality -- he just doesn’t have the same on-court motor as some of his peers, but players like McGrady have thrived despite relaxed demeanors. Teams will give him every chance to succeed and improve his range of offensive skills, but that’s a two-way street that requires Wiggins to want that success just as badly. Given all the hype attached to his name the past couple of years, anything less than stardom will be a disappointment.
Team Fit: If Cleveland's choice really did come down to Wiggins and Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, this was the right call. Wiggins strikes a better balance alongside Kyrie Irving: His complementary scoring plays well off the All-Star point guard without risking ball dominance; his competitive defense should, in time, help the Cavs overcome Irving's deficits in coverage; and there's reason to have high hopes for what a player with Wiggins' physical tools might become under new coach David Blatt, who is known for his X's-and-O's precision.
Looking at the roster more broadly, Wiggins slides into a wing rotation that had just one player (C.J. Miles) rate as average or better last season based on Player Efficiency Rating. That positional weakness allows Wiggins to jump into playing time without standing in the way of any other significant prospects. Ultimately, Wiggins has a chance of developing into the best player of this draft class while still giving Cleveland the boost that it needs in the present. Hard to do better under the circumstances.