3 in the Kee: Wiggins’ absolute, best-case NBA lottery scenarios
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Did you see the picture?
Of COURSE you saw the picture. Andrew Wiggins, jumping a reported 44 inches (according to his agent), straight up, like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon.
Whatever you thought of the 6-foot-8 Canadian as a collegian — an inconsistent jumper and inconsistent desire spring immediately to mind — at Kansas, there’s no debating that the Jayhawk one-and-done is a transcendent athlete, one of those once-in-a-lifetime, twice-in-a-lifetime physical specimens. With a game that probably translates better to the pros than it did to the Big 12.
While questions still lurk about Joel Embiid’s back, Wiggins’ NBA Draft stock is soaring — literally and figuratively. It’s likely he’ll be the first name off the board next month, which makes the annual draft lottery dog-and-pony show on Tuesday of particular interest locally …
THREE ABSOLUTE, BEST-CASE NBA LOTTERY SCENARIOS FOR FORMER KANSAS STAR ANDREW WIGGINS
:03 (tie): … ORLANDO (odds of No. 1 pick: 15.6 percent chance) and MILWAUKEE (25 percent chance)
What do the Magic and Bucks have in common, besides being miserable this past winter? A need for stars. Name recognition. Brand identity.
Orlando has thrown together some good young pieces in guards Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo, but the franchise has been wandering in the NBA’s desert since Dwight Howard left town.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, has posted only three winning seasons this century. Plus, the franchise is in a transition mode, top to bottom, undergoing an ownership change while also trying to get a new arena built. That means stumping for public money, and putting stars in place, faces in place, in order to get a Packers/football crowd excited about basketball again. In Cheeseland, the bar is low, and there’s nowhere to go but up.
:02 (tie) … CLEVELAND (odds of No. 1 pick: 1.7 percent chance) or PHILADELPHIA (19.9 percent chance)
For one thing, there’s likely to be an opening with the Cavs: Small forward Luol Deng is 29 and is expected to walk away as an unrestricted free agent.
For another, point guard Kyrie Irving needs a running mate. And imagine what Wiggins’ game — the hops, the ability to squirt past defenders one-on-one and get to the paint — would look like if the guy had an elite-level point guard to feed him night after night?
The Sixers are heading into Phase II of the Blow-It-Up-And-Start-Over Plan, having decided to build around guard (and Rookie of the Year) Michael Carter-Williams. The club even swapped out Evan Turner, creating a Wiggins-sized void for a long, rangy small forward-big-guard prototype with hops. Sound like anybody we know?
It’s Philly. Big market. East Coast market. East Coast exposure. Tough market, but one that’ll give you its heart if you give yours, night after night. Like Cleveland, Wiggins would give a flailing roster a 1-2 punch of young stars. And the Canadian wing’s long reach and instincts, especially against shooting guards and smaller shooters, would help a team defense that ranked the fourth-worst in the NBA in defensive efficiency (107.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) this past season.
:01 … BOSTON (odds of No. 1 pick: 10.3 percent chance)
One of the NBA’s flagship franchises gets one of the most hyped rookie stars in recent memory? Yeah, that’d work.
Wiggins in Beantown immediately puts The Cs on the national map again, television-wise, regardless of his actual contributions on the floor.
Plus, he sort of fits on the floor, too, playing alongside Rajon Rondo in the backcourt and behind a frontcourt that includes the likes of Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries. The Celtics need help all over the place (27th in offensive efficiency; 20th in defensive efficiency) and a star to pull the sled. Which begs the biggest question of all, of course, the ultimate red flag: Can Wiggins find a way to bring out his inner alpha dog for 82 games — and beyond?
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.