If the NBA offseason is the ideal time for teams to glue themselves to their office desks and cell phones in attempts of enticing new and exciting talent to their organization, a handful of teams did not receive the memo. In fact, only about one-third of NBA teams have a legitimate chance of surviving deep into the playoffs during the upcoming 2013-2014 season. What is worse is that a handful of ball clubs have abandoned all discretion in order to throw a team on the court that knowingly has little to no chance of winning more than a quarter of their matchups. The Philadelphia 76ers signed away their franchise player, Jrue Holiday, in exchange for a future draft pick and an unproven center with no offensive game and a bum knee in Nerlens Noel. The Utah Jazz seemingly locked up their bank accounts and turned off their phone lines when it came time to negotiate the contracts of their two best players, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, letting both all-stars sign with different teams. The Boston Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, both future hall of famers who have brought the Larry O’brien Trophy to Beantown, in exchange for a slew of expiring contracts. So what powerful force has brought about basketball’s Diaspora of talent from cities such as these? The answer is a skinny 18-year-old kid from Toronto.
Though Andrew Wiggins may not look like the next NBA superstar at first glance, the Kansas recruit may just be Canada’s most celebrated export since Justin Bieber. The 6-foot-8-inch forward averaged 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game during his senior year at Huntington Prep HS en route to becoming the most sought after college recruit of the decade. Wiggins’ athleticism has no limits. He has pogo sticks for legs, can change directions with the ball quicker than most professionals, and has an ever improving outside shot. Perhaps Wiggins’ most intriguing attribute to NBA coaches is that he is a well spoken, respectful, and coachable young man, which can be hard to come by in a basketball climate that treats youthful prospects like rock stars.
Despite being a year away from NBA eligibility and never playing in a college game, Wiggins has team owners drooling. Analysts claim that the young phenom possesses the most promising skill set since LeBron James. This means there is more hype around Andrew Wiggins than there was around players like Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony, all of whom are franchise-changing players.
In the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes, AKA the 2014 NBA Draft, the worst teams in the league will have the greatest chances of being awarded the first pick via a lottery selection process. And given the endless possibilities surrounding the young Andrew Wiggins, NBA teams have elected to opt out of next season’s playoff race by intentionally placing themselves into rebuilding mode. Though this is indeed rolling the dice on a young kid who has yet to prove himself on a big stage, his frequent flashes of brilliance make the reward worth the risk. In a recent exhibition game on the Kansas University campus, the future freshman attacked the basket with the ferocity of a lion and the elegance of a gazelle. He lifted his body in the air and threw the ball in the hoop with such ease that it was borderline supernatural. The effortless lift off the ground brought Wiggins’ so high in the air that he could have dunked the ball with his chin. Players and coaches fell silent. The future is bright.