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Wiggins Watch: The talk around Kansas' prized recruit turns negative

With fellow freshman phenoms Jabari Parker and Julius Randle putting up huge numbers at their respective schools, "bust" talk has already creeped into the national conversations about Andrew Wiggins

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

With great hype comes great expectations, and Andrew Wiggins' first games at Kansas have been no exception. Before the season started, many fans and media members (and even Bill Self) noted that the amount of talk surrounding Andrew Wiggins was setting up a set of expectations that could probably never be met. With comparisons to Lebron James, and nicknames like "Maple Jordan," the stage was set from day one in a manner that, regardless of which school Wiggins selected and how well he played, guaranteed his performance this year would seem like a bit of a letdown to the general college basketball-viewing public.

Given these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that, after struggling in the three-day "Battle for Atlantis" tournament in the Bahamas last week, the word "bust" has already been tossed around. And by "struggling," I mean that the true freshman averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, while playing three games in three days in a different part of the world while battling the flu. How...disappointing, I guess?

Granted, I'm painting the nicest portrait I can of those three games. Full disclosure, he also shot 11-30 while displaying an alarming lack of ability to finish around the rim. His free throws looked awful and he had a hard time posting up smaller players. Still, the fact that he was able to contribute at the level he did under the circumstances he was handed, I'm not ready to condemn or even change my opinion of him based on what happened in the Bahamas.

Still, I believe the talk was headed in this direction prior to last week's tournament. As I mentioned in a post back in October, Bill Self has a history of bringing in talented wings who, despite being very effective players as freshmen, never succeed in quite the way fans think they will, which can lead to some unfairly negative recollections. Wiggins seems to be on a very similar path right now. We've seen glimpses of his explosive athleticism, but they've generally been just that, glimpses. He hasn't singlehandedly taken over games, leaving in his wake a trail of opponents who simply didn't have an answer for his athleticism. Given the preseason talk about Wiggins, you can't really blame the more casual fan for expecting anything less.

But even though his numbers haven't been eye-popping, let's give them a look and see if they truly paint a picture of a disappointing player just 7 games (4 healthy games) into his career. Her per game scoring, if you're into that sort of thing, sits at 14.3 points per contents, which ranks 9th in the Big 12 and second on the team (despite just a 58.3 floor %). He boasts a 114.6 offensive rating (for comparison's sake, Marcus Smart's is 109.5), and despite the poor shooting (again, while playing with the flu) in the Bahamas, his eFG% sits at 53.5%. That's a very respectable percentage, especially when compared to other gifted scorers in the league like, say, I don't know...Marcus Smart (53.0%). He's also averaging 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game (again, despite a low floor % driven by illness and the depth of talent around him).

The problem is, Kansas has too many other options for Wiggins to do his best Kevin-Durant-at-Texas impersonation. Couple that to the facts that a) he's only a mediocre outside shooter at this point in his career and b) he's not by nature a selfish offensive player, and I don't believe we'll ever see the eye-popping numbers from him that it would take to silence those who are already willing to toss around the b-word. But it doesn't matter. Wiggins will continue to score well, and score efficiently (while playing lock-down defense by the way, a huge factor that I haven't even addressed), and will no doubt continue to be criticized as underwhelming by those who aren't paying enough attention. Rest assured that there are people paying very close attention, the scouts and draft experts. And Draft Express and Hoopsworld still have him as the #1 pick.

To those who remain unconvinced, and believe their eye test to be the most accurate judge of his performance, all I can do is ask that you look at every other test you could possibly give Andrew Wiggins to date, because he's passing.