It has been said countless times how great this year’s NBA draft class is going to be, that there are too many sure-fire prospects to mess up a top five pick. I, for one, have agreed with that line of thinking for quite some time, but after some consideration, I no longer think that a team will be in a can’t-miss spot if they end up with a top five pick. I am starting to have a considerable amount of pause when it comes to Andrew Wiggins, and he seems to be everyone’s choice for first overall. All the pundits, myself included, are wrong. This class has some very intriguing prospects, and some seem to be sure-fire NBA All-Stars at this point, but Wiggins is not one of them.
This year’s draft will feature Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid. All of those players has been in someone’s top three of mock drafts this year, with Wiggins most commonly being No. 1. But why are we so fixated on Wiggins at No. 1?
If this was 20 years ago, none of us would have even heard of Wiggins, yet alone have him as the first overall draft pick. His season to date is less than spectacular: 15.5 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game and shooting 46.6 from the field. These numbers are not bad numbers, but when you stack them up against Parker, Randle and Smart, they pale in comparison.
I know that 11 games in college isn’t enough of a sample size to reduce what scouts have seen for years from Wiggins. What I am saying is that it is time to stop acting as if it doesn’t matter. You don’t want to mess up this pick if you are lucky enough to get in the top half of the lottery.
This class has been compared with the 2003 draft that had LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That class was phenomenal, but what people forget is Darko Milicic was the second overall pick. Andrew Wiggins will not be the next Darko Milicic, but he could very easily be the next Marvin Williams, who was taken ahead of Chris Paul.
Wiggins has too much athleticism and shooting ability to be a terrible NBA player, but that doesn’t mean he is a can’t-miss prospect, at least not from what we have seen so far this season. He doesn’t take over games, and he doesn’t make others better. Wiggins is a very good basketball player, but is he better than Parker or Randle?
If you are the NBA team that is lucky enough to get the first pick in this class, you cannot miss. You cannot be the team that passed up on the next Grant Hill (Parker) or Karl Malone (Randle) just because you have been told for three years that Wiggins is the next LeBron. First off, Wiggins is more likely to be the next Tracy McGrady than next LeBron, but that isn’t a guarantee either. If you knew that Wiggins would be McGrady, then you take him in a heartbeat, but we don’t know anything for sure yet.
The book on Wiggins as the first overall pick should not be closed by any means; Derrick Rose was not even considered the second-best player in his class until the NCAA Tournament. I just think that it would be smart to start opening up to the likelihood that someone else could be No. 1. If Wiggins, Parker and Randle continue on the way they have up to this point, how could you take Wiggins first? The only way I see possible is if you are hanging on to what he did against lesser talented high school opponents.
Wiggins will more than likely be a fine NBA player, but as of now, he is not a guaranteed All-Star and in a draft when experts see four or five All-Stars, you cannot draft the one guy who isn’t going to be great just because he has the physical tools and beat up on high school kids. I hope Wiggins lives up to all the hype. I hope he goes to the NBA and him, Parker, Randle, Smart, Exum and Embiid are all great; it will make the NBA fun for years to come. Let’s just keep the book open until the season ends.
Follow Robbie on Twitter @rmarbury