Andrew Wiggins is one of the top prospects to come out of this upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. His athleticism has been referred to that of Lebron James and coverage of his early career hit a huge milestone with his sports illustrated cover that featured Wiggins, Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. Wiggins has been in the spot light since he was 16 and maybe even before. Has the pressure got to him? His early exit out of March Madness – many think – has affected how close to the top he will go. Is this really true?
Wiggins is clearly a talented player. He is extremely versatile and his speed is remarkable. According to ESPN’s Sport Science, Wiggins stands at 6’8” in length. His stride length is 8 feet and in comparison to Kevin Durant he is an inch shorter and a foot stride longer. His speed is approximately 20 miles per hour, equalling to that of Chris Paul. His wingspan is 7 feet and his total range is 8% greater than an average NBA centre (he is a guard). Although statistics do not mean everything, there cannot be doubt in anyone’s mind that he is an athlete, a competitor and a talented young man.
If you re-watch Wiggins’ “awful” game against Stanford, and I mean really watch, Wiggins played aggressive basketball. The team did not work with him and they, coach included, did not collectively make great decisions. On the other end, who is to say that Stanford didn’t just out hustle and outplay Kansas? Because that’s what it looked like to me. No one to blame or cut from drafts, but rather an underdog team pulling through and making a more qualified team look bad. The tournament is cut throat and upsets are what makes March Madness mad. One game does not define a player, never mind a phenomenal athlete. If upper management of these NBA teams know anything, they know that they can’t base a decision off one game or two for that matter.
Andrew Wiggins’ age is a factor we must take into consideration. People are comparing him to Lebron James. James had a phenomenal first season at 19 years of age with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds. Not everyone has a great first year in the NCAA nor do they have a great first year in the NBA. Do we all remember Lebron’s nickname? LeChoke. A player of his caliber was still choking under pressure. His first playoff appearances were uncomfortable at best. But with time and experience, he has demonstrated his professionalism through handling pressure. No one is perfect, especially these athletes who have constant pressure on them to succeed at a young age. Wiggins’ heart seems to be in it. He has developed a great deal in the past few years and that will only continue.
Is he ready for the NBA? Absolutely. Saying he isn’t is just ridiculous. He has plenty to learn just like any other freshman entering the league. It is new to them and adjustments must be made. But talent like this belongs in the NBA. So the question does not remain because his draft status is exactly where it should be…in full existence and in high numeration.