We’re now officially two months away from March Madness and players have more or less revealed who they really are. The same goes for the most talked about college freshman in the past few seasons, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. Everyone from Sports Illustrated to GQ gave the golden nod that he’d be the second coming of basketball royalty, but as those sentiments have began to fade.
Maybe he’s not LeBron James. Why is that a bad thing? He’s young enough, athletic enough and talented enough to write and rewrite his own story. To cast him off as not the most dynamic player hit that stage in this upcoming NBA Draft would be a mistake and here’s a few reasons why.
Draft Picks Are Made Based On Potential
We can’t lose sight of what makes Wiggins so appealing: his potential. He’s an unfolded talent with the epic athleticism. The kind of moves he’s physically capable of making can’t be taught to most, because they’re nearly impossible for the human body to make. A year of college polishing only makes him more valuable to teams and scouts.
Wiggins is the Big 12’s leading scorer among freshman (eighth overall), averaging nearly 16 ppg. With a field goal percentage of 45% and impressive 33% from the outside, he’s still living up to some of the hype he was surrounded by coming into the season.
Wiggins vs. Parker
When the smoke clears, what we’ll remember most about this awesome college basketball season is who won games. Jabari Parker came into the season as the unheralded mainstream star. People who follow prep players from the time they’re 15 and on knew how good he was, but most of America did not. Parker’s skill is unmatched in many ways, but the main issue scouts now have is they know exactly what he is. Sure, he’ll get better and possibly a bit stronger in pros. However, the improvements he makes will most likely be on what he’s already good at. Whereas, as scary as it seems, Wiggins is still playing mainly off of his athleticism and instinct.
The appeal for a team favors Wiggins because they’re essentially getting a 6-7, godly gifted project that can be molded into the next great player.
Superhero When It Counts
The knock (still) on Wiggins is that he tends to just blend in with everyone around him. That’s a problem when you consider how high a ceiling he has. Does he work hard? Is his goal to be a pro or to be an all-time great? The one thing no one can question is how he performs in big moments. He had 20 points and eight rebounds against Jabari Parker and Duke. Had a struggle moment where he quietly blended in against Villanova, which most likely cost them the game, but has since bounced back scoring 20 or better four times. Wiggins also recorded two double-double’s, dropping 26 points and 11 rebounds on Florida and hanging 17 points and 19 rebounds on Iowa State.
He might need to play that way all the time to be considered great on the next level, but there’s no question of whether he’s aware of the moment and how to seize it.
Wiggins vs. Embiid
The “it” thing to do is find the diamond in the rough. Be the scout that said, “hey, look over here. This player is the real gem,” so that if the player of the moment does pan out, you can say ‘I told y’all.’ Joel Embiid is without a doubt one of the best prospects in college basketball. He’s a space eating shot blocker, who could very well be the next great paint protecter in the game.
However, he’s too one dimensional to be considered better than Andrew Wiggins. Embiid’s story is amazing, given he started playing basketball at around 16-years-old and has only shown improvements. The fact that he possess the skill to get better is commendable and attractive to GM’s in itself. But when you look at what Andrew Wiggins already is, it’s hard to for me to buy into Embiid being more valuable as a player. Frankly put, Embiid is a piece but Wiggins is a cornerstone.