By Eric Szczepinski

A position no one expected the Cavaliers to have yet again at the start of last season. The number 1 overall pick once again provides the opportunity to draft an elite prospect that will change the course of the franchise history. Two top notch players that almost seem interchangeable for the top pick by most experts who think either could have their name called first on Thursday night, Jabari Parker from Duke and Andrew Wiggins from Kansas. But for me, the choice is obvious as I break down both prospects for the Cavs.

Jabari Parker, Freshman Duke University: Age 19, 6ft 8in 235 lb:

In one collegiate season Parker showed his offensive dominance as he carried the Blue Devils. He touched the ball every possession either on the wing or post. Duke often let Jabari Parker isolate and work the one on one game. He drove past defenders and made tough shots in traffic with both his left and right hand. Parker also showed the ability to be a knock down shooter and impressed with a 36% from 3 point land. Parker scores in high volumes and will be able to ignite an NBA offense. He uses what experts call his “NBA ready body” to his advantage to get to the rim and cause mismatches with smaller defenders. Despite his size Parker displays quickness to go past defenders and push the ball up the floor. However, he is not as quick laterally. He was Duke’s one man wrecking ball this season and took many forced shots. His shot selection became very suspect at times taking shots in crowds of defenders.

Parker gets credited for scoring lot of points but with that comes taking a lot of shots. Parker will need to let the offense run and operate before taking contested shots. He needs to understand the value of each possession and take high percentage shots. Another area of improvement will have to be his defensive skills. He doesn’t get into a proper defensive stance which allows offensive players to drive past him easily. He is often to slow to guard smaller quicker wing players. He also shows a disinterest in defense and doesn’t give maximum effort. An area Parker uses to his advantage is the post-up game. He uses his large frame where he can overpower defenders with his back to the rim. He can also separate and knock down fade away jump shots. With an all-around impressive and polished offensive game Jabari Parker will be an instant impact starter as a rookie and will be able to translate his scoring to the NBA level. He will have an edge as a rookie because he will have a fully developed jump shot that is reliable.

Andrew Wiggins, Freshman Kansas University: Age 19, 6ft 8in 200lbs

Andrew Wiggins has been a favorite to be the top pick of the NBA Draft since he was in high school in Toronto. Many have called Wiggins the next best prospect since LeBron James. Wiggins has an enormous 7’0 wingspan and has a freakish 44in vertical. Wiggins has natural athletic ability and is truly a once in a decade talent. His athletic ability and potential alone make him worthy of top pick consideration. Wiggins doesn’t possess the same scoring qualities as Jabari Parker but still has an explosive offensive game. Wiggins averaged 17 ppg in the big 12. Kansas’s offense system is much different than what Parker played in with Duke. Wiggins wasn’t the “man” in the Kansas offense. Kansas played at a slow half court pace and worked the offense. It was an offense system that didn’t allow Wiggins to reach his full offensive potential. He was never featured in isolation and never got the chance to work one on one.

Wiggins strived on transition scoring and played streaky based on the tempo of the game. Wiggins excels in the transition game. He can get the ball in space and put on a move and can easily get to the rim. Wiggins was one of the top attacking players in the country last season. He is capable of getting to the rim as quick as any prospect we have ever seen. He uses his lethal first step to blow by defenders and can jump out of the gym when finishing at the rim. However, he isn’t comfortable finishing with contact and needs to absorb contact and finish. Wiggins has excellent ball handling skills and moves but is a heavy right handed dominant player. To many times teams were able to shut him down by forcing him to his left hand.

Wiggins doesn’t have as polished as a perimeter game as Parker but can create shots on his own. Wiggins showed improvement throughout his freshman season and will need to work on nailing his jump shot consistently. At 6’8 200 pounds Wiggins could easily benefit by adding 25 to 30 pounds. With his size and wingspan he should be able to work the post-up game. He isn’t strong or big enough to make an impact on the interior offensive game. Defensively Andrew Wiggins is lock down. With his speed, quickness, and 7’0 wingspan Wiggins can shut down top guards and forwards. He will be able to guard three to four positions in the NBA. He forces turnovers and can quickly turn them into points at the other end. Once starting his NBA career it will be of importance for Wiggins to get comfortable with his offensive game. He will need to play with maximum effort on defense and the transition game to get his offensive game jump started.

Jabari Parker vs. Andrew Wiggins is a battle that will continue past draft night throughout their entire careers. The Cleveland Cavaliers can’t get the first overall selection wrong because both guys will be elite NBA players with the capability to turn around and be a center stone of a NBA team. Here is who would have the edge based on skill sets.

Perimeter offense: Parker

Attacking offense: Wiggins

Defense: Wiggins

Athletic ability: Wiggins

Leadership: Parker

 

When looking at the Cavs roster they have Kyrie Irving who is a ball dominant and scoring point guard. There is also Dion Waiters who needs to control the ball to be effective. As much excitement and spark Parker will bring, he also is a ball dominant player. Kyrie, Dion, and Jabari all need to control the ball to be effective. I think the pick of Parker would make the Cavs better overall but not maximize the value of the pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers will draft Kansas sensation Andrew Wiggins and not look back. Wiggins will be capable of sliding into a starting role of the 2 or 3 with the Cavs. Wiggins will not need to be controlling the ball and offense. He will work well without the ball and let Kyrie run the offense. Kyrie will be able to create open looks for Wiggins, which is something he never had at Kansas. He will have many opportunities to showcase his offensive game but by no means will have to be the guy while playing alongside Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who will be the top scoring options. Wiggins will make his presence felt igniting the Cavs defensively while letting offensive guru David Blatt work and turn Wiggins into a special player offensively.

When looking at Andrew Wiggins, he will be all-star player for the Cavs for years to come. I view Andrew Wiggins playing and comparing similar to Paul George offensively. It took George a few seasons before developing into an elite game changing offensive player. When Andrew Wiggins is selected Cavs fans should celebrate and feel a sense of relief knowing they have a once in a lifetime athlete as a building block for years and years to come.

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