With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected former Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins over Duke small forward Jabari Parker, much to the delight of an ecstatic NBA Draft night crowd at Quicken Loans Arena Thursday.
With much anticipation and anxiety over who the Cavaliers would take in the air after wasting last year’s No.1 pick on Anthony Bennett, many fans seemed divided in who the Wine and Gold would select, a 6’8 200-point high-flying slasher in Wiggins or a big-bodied scorer with questionable defense in Parker.
With conflicting reports up until the pick stating that the Cavs were leaning towards Parker, Wiggins or trading down, no one knew for sure.
The debate among fans in arguing the qualities of Parker being the more NBA-ready prospect who could immediately help the Cavs on offense or the athletic Wiggins capable of locking down on defense giving Cleveland some much-needed athleticism on the wing, seemed endless.
Both players have their strengths and weaknesses, while Parker is most likely to win NBA Rookie Of The Year on a bad Milwaukee Bucks team and average 19-21 points per game, Wiggins has the potential to be a multiple Defensive Player of The Year candidate, thanks to his 7’0 wingspan and combination of size, length and lateral quickness, Wiggins has more potential to grow and develop into a top-line player.
According to DraftExpress.com, Wiggins averaged 21 points per 40 minutes, 7.9 free-throws while shooting 34 percent from three-point range. While not as prolific or polished as Parker, Wiggins gives Cleveland what they need the most—a selfless team player dedicated to winning.
One other area that may have ultimately tipped Cleveland’s hand towards Wiggins were the pre-draft night rumors of Parker tanking his workout and preferring to play for Milwaukee.
Based on the actions of a certain two-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP—who happens to be from Akron and is now the most sought-after free agent in modern-day sports history—the last thing that a young and up-and-coming Cavaliers team need is a player in Parker whose heart isn’t fully invested in helping the Cavaliers win.
The former Duke Blue Devil may have more offensive skill than Wiggins does now, but his lack of a commitment to playing defense and concerns over his weight(250), may have ultimately turned the Cavs off.
Parker may have the potential to score more points per game due to his better scoring ability and high basketball IQ, but I feel—much like the 10,000-plus fans at Cavs Draft Night, who cheered the Wiggins selections like the days of LeBron–tells this writer that Cleveland is on it’s way back and made the right pick in Wiggins.
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