Last week, we took a look at Jabari Parker, how he stacks up physically against NBA-caliber power forwards, and how he fits in with the current Bucks roster. In light of some upcoming workouts, our next subject is another of the serious contenders for the #2 pick, Andrew Wiggins.
As one of the most highly touted prospects in the country coming out of high school, Wiggins has been analyzed, re-analyzed, over-analyzed, and then analyzed again, just for good measure. There’s the good: insane athletic ability, elite defensive potential, and devastating transition game; and the bad: unimpressive ballhandling, uninspiring halfcourt skills, and seemingly timid nature. I could rehash that entire discussion, or I could direct you to an excellent DraftExpress video scouting report by Mike Schmitz, who frankly does the job better than I could hope to.
Wiggins’ size – 6′ 8″ in shoes with an even seven foot wingspan, place him squarely in the small forward range. Following up on the theme of my last post, we’ve taken his measurables and plugged them into a comparison with some of the top small forwards in the league to see how he shakes out:
[table id=38 /]
(All numbers taken from the DX database. *Reported by ESPN’s Chad Ford from a late May workout. Wiggins’ vertical was provided by his agent, so take that it with about 27 grains of salt.)
Of course, we see all different kinds of players on this chart. Kevin Durant is basically a power forward’s body wrapped around the skills of a ridiculous shooting guard. LeBron James doesn’t represent a basketball player so much as he does a freight train wearing a jersey. Kawhi Leonard is the best basketball-playing robot I’ve ever seen. Et cetera. But when you put them together, they measure surprisingly similarly. Every player on this list (save Durant) meaures between 6′ 7″ and 6′ 9″ with a wingspan between 6′ 11″ and 7′ 3″. To that end, Wiggins slots in perfectly, with a standing reach near the top end of the range. Combine that with his noted exceptional athleticism, and matchups with those players would likely be no problem at all on either offense or defense. Interestingly, Wiggins’ closest measurable comparison on this is Paul George. I suspect Bucks fans would be very satisfied if Wiggins follows the same developmental path that George is taking in the early stages of his career.
Of course, Wiggins also weighs in as the lightest player in this group by about 15 pounds. While adding him would help the Bucks achieve their apparent goal of becoming the longest and leanest team in the league, Wiggins will have to do some bulking up to withstand the beating of a full NBA season. Adding 10-15 pounds to his frame would still place him among the lighter players on this list, but well within the range of players like George and Leonard.
So, how would Wiggins fit in with the Bucks? Obviously, the position he’s slotted into – small forward – is already occupied by one Giannis Antetokounmpo. Maybe you’ve heard of him. But there are ways the Bucks could eliminate that potential logjam. For one, many scouts and teams have begun to consider the wing positions (traditional shooting guards and small forwards) interchangeably. This line of thinking would allow the team to play Antetokounmpo and Wiggins together as wings and create defensive assignments based on favorable matchups against opposing wings.
The good news for that strategy is that it appears that both Wiggins and Antetokounmpo would be able to guard players on the perimeter due to their mobility and length. While Wiggins might merely fall into the “average” range for small forwards, he would immediately measure up as one of the tallest and longest shooting guards in the league. Guarding ostensibly smaller and more agile players would also play to his strengths defensively while putting him in a position where his one notable deficiency on that end – strength and bulk – will be less of an issue.
Offensively, that do would be lethal on the fast break – paired with a guard who likes to push the ball in transition, such as, oh, Brandon Knight, Wiggins and Antetokounmpo streaking down the court would be absolutely terrifying for opponents. The most advanced component of both players’ game comes in that area and that pairing would set Milwaukee for an exciting up-tempo scheme.
The downside of that pairing is that offensive spacing in non-transitional situations would be… suspect. While Antetokounmpo is improving as a shooter, he has a ways to go before he’s threatening enough to consistently draw defenders out of the paint. By all accounts, Wiggins has an acceptable midrange game, but shot only 34% from three in college. He certainly has the ability and potential to develop (after all, potential is the reason he’s so highly touted), and a good shooting form to build on. In time, if both he and Antetokounmpo fulfill that potential, the Bucks would have a devastating wing combination to build around.
If Parker represents the “sure thing” among 2014’s top draft prospects, Wiggins represents the biggest moon shot. While he’s one of the rawer prospects in the draft, his athleticism and flashes of talent at a young age are tantalizing for an organization that desperately needs a rising star to build around. From a publicity standpoint, Wiggins also is one of the most marketable names in the draft. While those who have followed the draft process with us so far are familiar with most of the top 10 players, Wiggins’ was the most talked-about name throughout the college season and likely will be the most familiar player to the average fan. While he likely won’t provide a dramatic immediate impact on the court, Wiggins does give the Bucks a marketable face to sell in their attempt to draw fans into the Bradley Center and eventually rally support for a new arena.
As the top four prospects come in for workouts with the Bucks or have the Bucks come watch them workout in the coming weeks, the draft picture will start to shake out. As those workouts are completed, we’ll likely begin to develop a clearer picture of who’s in play at #2, who impresses most in their workout, and who the Bucks will ultimately select to help turn the franchise around