Since the day Andrew Wiggins committed to Kansas, he has been the main focus of attention when it comes to the basketball program. Fair or unfair, eyes across the basketball-watching nation are fixed on Wiggins, watching to see if he can really be what he's been hyped to be, interested in his successes and failures throughout his only season of college basketball.
With that in mind, we'll be doing a weekly feature here at RCT, exploring a different angle of the "Andrew Wiggins' year at Kansas" story. As the NBA season takes shape, we'll look at potential NBA landing places for Wiggins, and how he would meet the needs of each. Obviously, we'll be monitoring Wiggins' performances throughout the season as well, including his numbers and the standing of his draft stock. If you ever have an idea for Wiggins Watch post, or a Wiggins-related topic you'd like to see further analyzed, please let me know (there are a lot of weeks in a basketball season, and my creativity is limited).
The hot topic surrounding Wiggins this week has been how he compares to the other freshman in this class, and whether he is already losing his spot as the prohibitive favorite for the top spot in the draft next year. Fellow class members Julius Randle (Kentucky), Jabari Parker (Duke), and perhaps to a lesser extent Aaron Gordon (Arizona) have also been drawing rave reviews, causing many national pundits to jump from the Wiggins bandwagon before it had a chance to start rolling.
This was an especially relevant conversation this week due to the Champions Classic games Tuesday. In the early game, Julius Randle drew most of the media focus, and as of halftime, things weren't going well. Randle had just four points off 1-5 shooting, and was well off track for his early season rebounding average at just four. A big second half, which showed off impressive rebounding instincts and nearly unstoppable moves around the basket resulted in a line of 27 points, 13 rebounds and an assist. Impressive as that is (especially against Michigan State), it's also noteworthy that he turned the ball over eight times, and missed some big free throws in the second half, finishing just 9-15 from the stripe.
The second game, as well as know, featured both Parker and Wiggins. The first half belonged largely to Parker, due to Wiggins picking up two early fouls and spending the last 9+ minutes on the bench. Parker got red-hot and gave ESPN plenty of highlight-reel fodder, scoring 19 points and making 4 of 5 three point attempts. Parker cooled in the second half while Wiggins stepped it up, scoring two of the biggest baskets of the game in the final two minutes. Parker would end up going 9-18 from the floor, scoring 27 and grabbing nine rebounds. Wiggins scored a very quiet 22 (as impossible as that sounds) in just 25 minutes played, adding eight boards.
So where do the big name freshmen sit two games into the season (three for Randle)? Here's a look at an assortment of statistics (both standard and adjusted)
|Def Reb %
|Off Reb %
Obviously, it's way too early to start drawing any definitive conclusions, but it does seem as though Aaron Gordon isn't quite in the same class as the other three. On an Arizona team with less overall talent than KU, Duke and Kentucky, Gordon hasn't been able to put up the astounding numbers yet (again, after only two games).
We'll monitor the numbers more as the year goes on, but that's what fans and media are basing their perceptions on at this time. Based on what I've seen so far, I'd say Randle is a bigger threat to take the #1 spot from Wiggins. He's been able to rebound against all three of his opponents so far, including a Michigan State team that is tough inside, and his body is the most NBA-ready. While Parker's offensive numbers look the most impressive, he's been able to hit 7 of 10 three point attempts, a clip that he obviously won't be able to duplicate. He looks like more of a volume scorer at this point, which makes him a little less attractive offensively. Wiggins was able to score 22 points against a very good team within the offense, without the benefit of catching fire from behind the arc. Parker's alley-oop dunk and hot shooting streak will raise more eyebrows from Sportscenter, but don't necessarily indicate he's a better player.
But again, we're one week into the season, and things will inevitably change. Check back next week for another look at all things Wiggins.