June 26th, 2014 was a day many Cleveland Sports fans awaited anxiously. As the Cavs and the rest of the NBA wait for the result of “The Decision: Part Two,” the Cavaliers had their own decision to make: what to do with the first overall pick in the draft. Amid wide speculation that the Cavaliers were looking to move the pick for some veteran help and a heated fan debate of whether Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker was the best fit for the Cavs, General Manager David Griffin had a difficult decision to make. As Adam Silver made his way to the podium, Cavalier fans held their breath:
“With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Andrew Wiggins from Toronto and the University of Kansas.”
Analysis of the pick:
If you follow me on twitter, you know that I was a huge advocate of drafting Joel Embiid prior to his foot injury. Even after learning of this foot injury, I was a proponent of trading the pick. After watching Wiggins’ reaction to getting drafted and hearing the things he had to say, I must say that the person, Andrew Christian Wiggins, won me over. I now have a flat-out man crush on the guy.
Wiggins was all smiles as he hugged friends and family and made his way to the stage to shake Commissioner Silver’s hand. Moments afterward, he still was grinning ear-to-ear, clearly happy to be the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. A quiet, humble guy, Wiggins will have no problem fitting in with the Cavaliers.
Wants to be in Cleveland: Check.
From a basketball standpoint, Wiggins is an exciting player, and that’s putting it mildly. Many say he is the best athlete in the draft, and it does not take long to notice his undeniable athleticism when watching him on tape. While many rookies struggle defensively in the NBA, Wiggins seems to have the athleticism, the size/length, and the desire necessary to be an immediate impact on defense for an NBA team. His quickness will also allow him to guard any perimeter player on the floor. This Cavs team struggled on the defensive end of the floor last season. Andrew Wiggins will surely help the Cavaliers’ defensive woes.
Defensive Skill: Check.
The college game is much different than the NBA game. In college, there is clearly more structure instituted by the coach. The shot clock is much longer and teams are able to run more sets rather than the quick-hitters that most NBA teams run. There is less isolation and 1-on-1 situations in the college game. In a structured system in Kansas, Wiggins was able to score 17.1 points per game while shooting 49% from the floor. Though he is not known as a great three-point shooter, he still was able to muster a 34.1% mark from behind the line. His range is still a question mark, as it will undoubtedly be more difficult for him to get to the hoop in the NBA, but many questioned Kawhi Leonard’s range and offensive skills when he entered the NBA and we all know how that worked out for the Spurs. Wiggins’ game is more suited for the NBA. On the night of the NBA Draft lottery, Wiggins himself said that he thought he would be successful in the NBA because the NBA allowed for more open-court situations and 1-on-1 opportunities, which is the strength of his offensive game. Wiggins may be a better pro than college basketball player.
Offensive Potential: Check
Andrew Wiggins has all the potential of an NBA superstar in the coming years. Under Coach David Blatt, the Cavaliers will be running a Princeton offense, which focuses on spreading the ball around. Wiggins fits that style. The other option for the Cavaliers at this choice, Jabari Parker, drew comparisons to Carmelo Anthony. While Anthony is a great player, his offensive game is focused more on isolation post-ups, which slows the movement of the ball. Parker almost certainly will look to play the same way. Wiggins will allow the Cavaliers to get the ball movement they need to be successful. Wiggins also can fill the role of a shooting guard or a small forward, leaving room for other talent to be added on the wing. Can you imagine a fast break featuring Irving, Waiters, and Wiggins? Even better, could you imagine the Cavaliers playing small ball with Irving, Waiters, Wiggins, and (dare I say?) LeBron James?
Grade for the first overall pick: A
With the 33rd pick in the draft, the Cavaliers selected Joe Harris, SG/SF from Virginia.
Sticking with the Cavalier mascot, Joe Harris will be making his way to Cleveland this fall. A knock-down shooter who shot 41% from behind the three-point line in his four-year college career, Harris fills another need for the Cavaliers, as the Cavaliers struggled making shots from behind the three-point arc last season. Harris also is known as an above-average perimeter defender who should also be able to make an impact immediately for the Cavaliers. Harris is a player who does not need the ball to constantly be in his hands to have a positive effect on the game. With a lineup that now features ball-dominant players of Irving, Waiters, and Wiggins, Joe Harris is a good fit for this team. Harris played four years at Virginia, so his maturity and basketball IQ should be of great benefit to the Cavaliers.
As I stated on twitter, I really wanted Cleanthony Early with this pick, so for that reason, this pick gets a slightly lower (but still good) grade.
Grade for the thirty-third pick: B
A proposed trade has the 45th pick in the draft, Dwight Powell, a PF/C from Stanford coming to Cavaliers.
Though he is very raw offensively, Dwight Powell provides some length and athleticism at the back end of the bench for the Cavaliers. Powell has shown some offensive progress in his years at Stanford with an effective post hook. He even flashed the ability to make a three pointer, at times, though his percentage was not great. Powell could develop into a solid NBA player with some development–he definitely has the body for it. He draws some comparisons to a Mason Plumlee type of player. This was a low-risk, high reward pick for the Cavs.
Grade for the fourty-fifth pick: C+
The Cavaliers added a great talent, a knock-down shooter, and a young rim protector in this draft. The best part about it? They didn’t have to trade half their team to acquire talent. Perhaps the only somewhat disappointing aspect of this draft is that the Cavaliers were unable to acquire any veteran talent in the form of an established big to take control of the starting center position. Since there are still question marks about Anderson Varejao’s contract and health, and since Tyler Zeller has been far from spectacular, suring up the center position would have been crucial.
Overall Grade: B+
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