Just how good is Andrew Wiggins? Well, an NBA head scout recently told me Wiggins would be the No. 1 pick today.
Wiggins is far from a finished project, but his reclassification back to his original class today sent reverberations throughout the high school world, as well as the collegiate and NBA game.
“If he stays on course, he will be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft,” the scout said. “He would start on any NBA team today without a current All-Star at the small forward position.”
Now, future success is far from a guarantee no matter how talented the player is, but Wiggins appears to be on a path very few have traveled. With the hoopla over whether he would reclassify behind us, let’s look at Wiggins the basketball player.
Along with former ESPN 100 No. 1 player Jabari Parker, the 6-foot-7 Wiggins is the most talented player in high school basketball. Speaking of Parker, his drop in ranking to No. 2 has less to do with his talent or upside and more about just how dominant Wiggins has been in his career. Wiggins would have jumped over past No. 1 recruits such as Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Muhammad, Austin Rivers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Andre Drummond. The only former elite prospect he wouldn’t have leapfrogged was this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis.
He is an incredible athlete with a pair of broad shoulders and superior leaping ability, which allows him to perform several highlight dunks, as well as block shots on defense. His offensive skill has progressed significantly over the past few years, as he can now nail 3-pointers in transition or in the half-court set in addition to attacking the basket
His elevation and high release make it tough to defend his jumper, as he routinely drills shots from all over the court with defenders draped all over him.
When Wiggins creeps inside the arc, he possesses a snappy dribble pull-up and he’s virtually impossible to defend when he puts the ball on the deck. Defenders are limited to either fouling or hoping the shot is off target. Where Wiggins truly excels is in the open court, where he uses his sprinter speed, fluid movement and outstanding body control to get to the basket and finish with authority.
Wiggins is so good offensively, coaches can choose to run plays for him or just give him the ball and let him create on his own. When the shot clock is winding down, he’s certainly the kind of guy whose hands you want with the ball in. At the prestigious Nike EYBL this summer, he shot 60 percent from the field in 20 games, showing a willingness to not settle for the long ball despite shooting an impressive 37 percent from behind the arc. Wiggins also went to his post-up game to maintain a high percentage.
Like any other player at this level, Wiggins has his weaknesses and will need to minimize his deficiencies to maximize his potential.
For a guy who is so explosive and aggressive as a scorer, he ends up at the foul line quite often. This is an area in which he must improve to round out his game. I have seen him make good passes, but his ability to read defenses needs work, as he faces double-teams throughout the contest. That's an advanced concept that will come in time. For now, he just needs to make sure he values the ball.
With continued work, he should make improvements to overcome the few limitations in his game.
And no matter where he winds up, Wiggins should be the most impactful freshman in college hoops next year. His recruiting is now ratcheted up a notch with favorites Kentucky and Florida State being joined by newcomers Ohio State, Kansas and UNC in the running for his services.