Beyond the Bison: “Buyer’s market out there”

Julian Dorey, Staff Writer

Andrew Wiggins is the guy.

With a prospect class that is more loaded than any other in recent memory, the 2014 NBA Draft will assuredly have intense draft day arguments over current picks, and legendary arguments 10 years from now—much like the 1984 (Olajuwon, Jordan, Barkley), 1996 (Iverson, Bryant, Allen, Nash), and 2003 (James, Anthony, Wade, Bosh) drafts.

This year’s class will most likely feature five freshman players drafted with the first five picks—and maybe even the first six or seven (Note: the American player abroad in Australia, Dante Exum, did not compete in college, but he would have been a freshman). Coming into last year’s college season, the argument over who would reign supreme as the first overall pick was not contested at all: Andrew Wiggins.

A 6-foot-8, 200-plus pound, rare, genetic masterpiece out of Canada (his father was an NBA player and his mother was an All-American track runner at Florida State), Wiggins walked onto Kansas University’s campus with ridiculous and even unfair comparisons to LeBron James and Michael Jordan. In his first summer pickup game with KU players and alum, (literally, it was just a pickup game), the internet went wild over a couple video highlights. The attention on this kid was just about unprecedented in the college ranks.

Wiggins wouldn’t say so himself, but he didn’t like it. He’s a good kid and a good teammate, and the thought of widespread attention scared him. So throughout this season, while Wiggins played solid basketball, he was definitely passive on the floor, afraid to be labeled a ball-hog, a prima donna, or anything of the sort. Scouts were disappointed as other freshmen like Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and even Wiggins’ own 7-foot teammate Joel Embiid burst onto the scene with more confidence and fireworks.

Wiggins certainly showed more and more flashes as the season went on—but it all ended unceremoniously with a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament with Wiggins contributing just four points to go along with just as many turnovers.

So the question has become: Is Wiggins even the number one pick anymore? In a recent poll of 30 executives (one from every team in the NBA), Parker actually garnered more votes for which player should be the number one pick. Parker is offensively about as NBA-ready as they come, and he should be a star at the next level. Many scouts have even said that the performance and upside of Wiggins’ college teammate, Embiid, outweighs Wiggins in both categories.

I say stop it. Wiggins is an athletic specimen with an NBA-style jumper, incredible skills at the basket, good defensive fundamentals, and a high basketball IQ. He will continue to grow into his body, and NBA coaches will ensure him that demanding the ball at the next level will not be a problem.

Embiid is the other player with incredible upside that I could see as a potential good argument to supplant Wiggins, but the back problems that ended his collegiate season are a little scary considering the sad history of injuries halting the development of big men.

There were some bad teams in the NBA this year, and every one of them should be hoping to win the NBA Draft Lottery for the right to draft Andrew Wiggins.

End of story.

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