Cavaliers select Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins with first pick in NBA Draft

This time, Dan Gilbert made sure he got his man.
MCT Regional News
Jun 27, 2014
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The Cavaliers added a Canadian for the second year in a row with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, taking Kansas freshman forward Andrew Wiggins on Thursday night.

Wiggins, a native of Thornhill, Ontario, is the newest addition to the Cavs following last year’s No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett.

“I think I can be a great player,” Wiggins said during a teleconference with local media at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I want to be one of the best. I think it comes with hard work and dedication to be one of the best.”

Wiggins, 19, is 6-feet-8 and 200 pounds. He can play small forward and shooting guard after averaging 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 32.8 minutes per game in his lone season at Kansas.

He played two years of high school ball at Huntington Prep.

“I want to come in and make an impact right of the bat,” Wiggins said. “I want to come in, win Rookie of the Year and play in the All-Star Game.”

Wiggins later talked about winning championships.

He showed confidence and smiled as he wore a flashy black-and-white suit, and shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after his name was called first at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Duke’s Jabari Parker was the top American selected, going No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Philadelphia 76ers took Kansas’s Joel Embiid third, the Orlando Magic took Arizona’s Aaron Gordon fourth and the Utah Jazz took Australia’s Dante Exum.

Wiggins was a consensus second-team All-America selection, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and an All-Big 12 first-team pick.

Cavs General Manager David Griffin praised Wiggins for his solid defensive skills during a television interview with ESPN, and compared him to Shawn Marion. Others have compared him to Tracy McGrady, as an athletic player with elite leaping ability.

“All of our scouts felt like he had the most upside,” Griffin said.

Wiggins is the third Canadian on the Cavs roster, to go along with Bennett and Tristan Thompson.

“We have always been cool,” Wiggins said. “I played the AAU circuit with Tristan and AAU and at the national level with AB. There is chemistry and we all want to be good.

“[This is a] great thing for Toronto. Great thing for Canada, actually. Before this, no player from Canada has been No. 1, and now we have two back-to-back No. 1s.”

Wiggins expressed excitement about joining a young Cavs team that features Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Thompson and Bennett.

“They’re young, they like to run and they are athletic,” Wiggins said. “They are all aggressive and I think we will all get along.”

Wiggins also addressed the possibility of playing with former Cavs star LeBron James, who has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat and filed for free agency.

“It would be great to play with the one of the greatest ever,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins is the sixth player the Cavs have selected No. 1 overall, joining Austin Carr (1971), Brad Daugherty (1986), James (2003), Irving (2011) and Bennett (2013).

Carr, Daugherty, James and Irving have each played in at least one NBA All-Star Game.

With the third pick of the second round (33rd overall), the Cavs selected Joe Harris, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard/forward from Virginia.

The last Kansas player to go No. 1 was Danny Manning in 1988.

“This is a dream come true,” Wiggins said. “The last 24 hours, I have been running around doing interviews. I have been preparing for this moment. … I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid. My dream was just to make the NBA.”

Wiggins said he met new Cavs coach David Blatt last week when he was in town to work out, and feels comfortable with his style.

“I know he’s a great coach, a European coach,” Wiggins said. “I asked around, no player has ever not liked him. He’s a great coach, and I think he’s going to do great things for our team and just help us on the come up.”

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By Michael Beaven - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

* * *

* * *

Gilbert gets his man

This time, Dan Gilbert made sure he got his man. Time will tell whether or not he’s correct.

A billionaire who owns more than 70 companies and has made his fortune swinging for the fences and believing in upside now believes in Andrew Wiggins.

The Cavaliers selected Wiggins first overall in Thursday’s NBA Draft because, by all accounts, he has a higher upside than Jabari Parker. And Gilbert loves upside.

The Cavs’ scouting department felt differently. They had Parker ranked ahead of Wiggins throughout the season, multiple sources have confirmed, but Wiggins is headed to Cleveland as another terrific young piece that now gives the Cavs five players who have been selected in the top four of the past four drafts.

The selection certainly isn’t a reach. Wiggins was projected to go No. 1 overall in this draft for at least the past year, but Cavs executives were intrigued with Parker’s scoring, had little concern he could handle the small forward position and didn’t seem scared off by Parker’s lack of interest in coming to Cleveland.

One source with knowledge of the Cavs’ draft plans said late Tuesday night that Gilbert preferred Wiggins. History perhaps indicates why.

Gilbert wanted Victor Oladipo last year, according to multiple sources, but deferred to a front office that instead drafted Anthony Bennett.

The Cavs’ front office viewed Oladipo as an athletic, high-motor guy who lacked a discernible skill. Bennett, meanwhile, was viewed as a tweener who arrived overweight and struggled through a miserable rookie season.

Wiggins and Parker certainly have brighter futures than both Oladipo and Bennett. But when Parker showed up for his Cavs workout overweight, and with questions around the league regarding what position he plays, the comparisons to the Bennett situation last year were inevitable. And Gilbert apparently didn’t want another replay of the Oladipo/Bennett situation.

Now the focus shifts to Wiggins and whether his presence, along with Kyrie Irving, can lure Miami Heat star LeBron James back to Cleveland. Within hours of becoming a member of the Cavs, Wiggins was asked repeatedly about the possibility of playing alongside James.

“I want to win,” Wiggins said. “If he wants to win, we’d be good together.”

James will become a free agent next week and the Cavs will push hard to re-sign him, but the 19-year-old Wiggins isn’t going to start trying to recruit the world’s best player.

“I wouldn’t want to sell him on nothing. He’s a grown man,” Wiggins said. “He’s going to follow wherever his heart is. I’d tell him to follow his heart and whatever he wants to do, go through with it.”

Wiggins is electrifyingly athletic. He can run faster and soar higher than any other player in this draft. But the Cavs have concerns over how hard he plays and how much he’ll develop offensively — although General Manager David Griffin told ESPN after the pick the Cavs view Wiggins’ tenacious defense as a skill set.

He’ll fit in immediately at small forward, filling a position that has been a glaring need since James departed four years ago.

Regardless of who the Cavs selected, they have a nucleus that can grow and win together if James returns or not. Certainly James would make them an instant contender, but provided Irving signs an extension this summer, the Cavs could eventually contend with Irving and Wiggins carrying the franchise.

“All our scouts felt he had the most upside,” Griffin said of Wiggins. So did Gilbert.

Let’s hope he’s right.

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By Jason Lloyd - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services