Before the NBA Draft Lottery determines where the Phoenix Suns will pick in the 2014 draft, we kick off our draft profile series with a look at arguably the biggest prize of all. As impossible an outcome as it may be — and to cover all of our bases — here’s how the Suns fit in to Andrew Wiggins’ NBA Draft potential.
Make a list of attributes that make an All-Star NBA player, and Andrew Wiggins has them. The Kansas Jayhawks freshman averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for Bill Self, and he did little to hurt his stock as a potential No. 1 overall draft pick in his only college season. He was the most hyped youngster since LeBron James, but he resembles a more refined Paul George in terms of where he’s at in his development.
While Wiggins’ slashing potential is so great because of his physical attributes, he does have trouble at times using his athleticism to his advantage. His ball handling is average, and smaller defenders are able to bother him by staying in front. Even when Wiggins got by his defenders, he struggled adjusting either by changing directions with the ball or finishing through contact. It was almost as if he panicked when defensive rotations bothered to challenge him at the rim, and that leads to the biggest issue of all.
The star potential for Wiggins is there, but reaching that depends on how much he develops his aggressiveness from a mental standpoint. It’s hard for him to break away from the nice-guy Canadian stereotype, but that’s what Wiggins will have to change in the NBA to take his game to an All-Star level. His high (a 41-point, eight-rebound, four-block, five-steal performance against West Virginia) is as impressive as his low (a six-point and 1-for-6 shooting performance in the round of 32 against Stanford in the NCAA Tournament). Part of that was Wiggins being willing to play within Self’s team-first offense, but the other bit is that he wasn’t the Type A personality to take over a game.
How he would fit with the Suns
There’s a 0.5 percent chance Phoenix selects first, another 0.6 percent shot of picking second and a 0.7 percent opportunity for the Suns to earn the third overall pick. It’s hard to imagine Wiggins going after both Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker, but in any circumstance, the Suns would be extremely lucky to have any shot at him.
Let’s say they will. Wiggins would fit with the Suns as he would on any roster. The Suns would have their small forward of the future, which this summer would make much-loved utility forward P.J. Tucker a bit more expendable as a free agent. Wiggins running with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic over the next few years would be a dream scenario — well, it probably is only a dream — and it would be a core that could tempt a big man to join the Suns, be it Kevin Love via trade or any of the other big names hitting free agency next summer. Wiggins could develop into the Suns’ third pick-and-roll threat without pressure but with playing time, yet one of his weaknesses — ball handling — wouldn’t be much of an issue considering the ball-dominating point guards on the roster. He could develop his jumper, get open looks and comfortably acclimate to the NBA.
Specifically discussing Love, Phoenix would have to take a very strong look at what to do if they do earn a high lottery pick on Tuesday night. On one hand, the Suns would love to keep a talent like Wiggins, using that as a bargaining chip to lure Love to Phoenix. On the other, the Timberwolves would probably require a top draft choice in return for their All-Star forward. And this is why the Love situation won’t shake out until after draft night — for the Suns or anyone else. It all depends on who slips where.