Talent, athleticism, explosive, elite, lock down defender, potential, project, and unrefined. These are the words that have been used to describe NBA wing prospect, and former Kansas’ standout, Andrew Wiggins. The 19 year old has been at the top of draft boards for over a year now, and is at the top of almost every NBA General Manager’s radar.
Since last fall, I’ve been harping on the thought that Wiggins is more a project with max potential than a seasoned, well rounded player that can make an immediate impact in the NBA. I’m a bigger fan of what Jabari Parker has to offer the NBA than I am of Wiggins. So, you can imagine how very skeptical I became, when approached by my fellow NBA writers at Torn By Sports to do a write-up of Wiggins and his potential fit for the Utah Jazz, should he be available.
Draft Express describes Wiggins:
“Wiggins has everything you could hope for in a wing prospect physically… and is an elite athlete… He’s incredibly quick and explosive.”
“Defensively, Wiggins is already extremely effective. His combination of size, length, lateral quickness and solid intensity gives him the potential to develop into a multi-positional lockdown perimeter defender in the NBA, particularly as he matures and gets stronger.”
“His tremendous scoring instincts and defensive prowess give him outstanding two-way potential, and that, coupled with his incredibly rare physical tools, makes it very easy to see why he’s such a coveted prospect.”
DraftExpress.com – http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz31Zinsoez
Wiggins is the real deal, an undeniable specimen. If the Jazz win the NBA draft lottery, is Wiggins THE guy? If they get the 2nd or 3rd pick and he is still available, do they take him? Does he fit what the Jazz ultimately need?
One glaring need Jazz have is a “go to” player. Someone with the ability to get his own shot and finish, even with defenses keyed in on him. They need a player that commands the attention of opposing defenses and opens up opportunities for his teammates. During the season, when scoring was needed, the Jazz failed to find a player who could produce consistently. They were 29th in the NBA in points per game, and 26th in assists. Even with a young core of lottery picks, the options just weren’t there. The Jazz need a scorer. It’s as simple as that.
Scoring wasn’t the only deficiency, however. The Jazz were not very good on the defensive end either. They were 29th in the NBA in Defensive Rating (via Basketball Reference), and 28th in the league in three point shooting defense, allowing teams to shoot 37.6%. They were just plain horrible. They really didn’t have a lock down defender at any position. There were times, where they showed glimpses of being able to stop opposing players. But those times, were few and far between.
Wiggins can address some of those needs. He brings the scorers mentality, with the ability to score at will. He is a gifted player, with a deadly first step, who makes the game look so smooth and effortless. His length and athleticism gives him the tools to be a lock down perimeter defender, rebounder and shot blocker.
While I didn’t get a chance to see much of his game during the season, I took some time to watch Mike Schmitz’s scouting video at Draft Express. Wiggin’s truly glides so easily on the floor. The one thing that caught my attention is how quick his rebounding reaction time was, lightning quick. One play in particular, he missed a layup at full speed, landed out of bounds and returned under the basket to tip in his miss before his opponents knew what happened. Did I mention Wiggins is extremely gifted?
There are concerns, however, about Wiggins’ maturity and intangibles.
“To reach his full potential, NBA teams will want to see Wiggins become more aggressive with the way he approaches the game. He has somewhat of a laid-back demeanor on the floor…”
DraftExpress.com – http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz31Zpnq500
“The biggest issue is whether or not Wiggins has the mental make up to maximize his immense physical gifts.”
Regardless of his physical tools, his weaknesses could be his undoing. All too often, we’ve seen players who have all the gifts, talents and capabilities of being elite players, only to find they lack the intangibles. Leadership, sense of urgency, work ethic, and focus are as important at the next level as the physical tools. Players who lack these basic necessities, or who simply rely on their athleticism alone to make it, often fall short of expectations. Even more likely, those traits may surface when a player is not happy in their circumstances.
Wiggins’ could improve those intangibles with a little maturity. He is likely to be the consensus number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. His upside is through the roof. He has all the makings of a super star at the next level… if he wants to be. Assuming he’s willing …and coachable.
Should the Utah Jazz pick Andrew Wiggins if he is available? Conventional wisdom says yes. If it were me, I’d find it hard to pass up on him, even with his glaring weaknesses. I believe there are players better suited to the Jazz’ overall needs. But if indeed they pick him, the need for a coach who can work with him, mold him and help him to reach his full potential becomes critical. The right chemistry will need to exist. He will need to improve on the intangibles. He must be willing to maximize his physical tools.
At the NBA Draft Combine, ESPN NBA Insider, Chad Ford stated the top picks in the draft could be decided by “team need” versus the conventional “best player available.” While the draft is loaded with athleticism and potential, the Draft Lottery may decide the draft order. Who the Jazz draft may depend largely on filling the need.
It’s a gamble. Then again, it’s the NBA lottery for a reason. When it comes to gambling, one can only hope that Utah and Dennis Lindsey can win.
For more on Andrew Wiggins check out David Locke’s breakdown.