Tuesday's 2014 NBA draft lottery will determine which teams will make the top three selections in the June 26 draft. Each team in the lottery has its own needs, of course, and unlike in some past years — LeBron James in 2003, Blake Griffin in 2009 and Anthony Davis in 2012, to name a few — there's not a clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it No. 1 overall pick to be made, but rather a collection of several young talents who each might merit top billing depending on which organization winds up making the selection.
That's not how Andrew Wiggins sees it, though. The high-flying 19-year-old Toronto product, who authored several remarkable performances during his lone year at Kansas but also left some observers wanting to see more production out of his estimable physical gifts, believes whichever team winds up picking first overall would do well to take him and never look back.
Wiggins offered as much during a Monday visit to ESPN's "First Take" program, where joined Skip Bayless at the "debate desk" and Stephen A. Smith via "debate teleconference" (I assume) to talk about the draft process, his role in it and where he stacks up alongside the other likely top-three picks in this year's draft — center Joel Embiid, his Jayhawks teammate, and high-scoring small forward Jabari Parker, who won National Freshman of the Year honors at Duke:
“I think for me, Jabari or Joel, I think we all want to go No. 1," Wiggins said. "But it’s not the end of the world if we don’t, because there’s been a lot of great players that ended up to be, like, the best ever and great Hall of Famers that never were No. 1 and still had a great career."
Wiggins was then reminded that he was on a program where everything had to be boiled down to a hot take and asked where he would rank himself among the top prospects in this year's draft.
"I always put myself No. 1 above everybody else," Wiggins replied. "That’s just me. I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself."
These, of course, are exceedingly reasonable attitudes to both have and share. After all, had Wiggins said he thought somebody else should be the No. 1 pick, he'd likely be slammed as lacking confidence or some ineffable will to be great. (He's already been tagged with a similar critique for at-times passive on-court work: "With Wiggins, he's really athletic but does he have a takeover personality?" ESPN's Jay Bilas told USA TODAY.)
Not only does Wiggins believe his game and physical prowess merit the first selection, but as he told Sirius XM's "Off the Dribble" show, he'd also welcome the pressure that would come along with going No. 1 overall, no matter which team winds up atop the lottery:
"I'd rather be the No. 1 pick than really worry about where I'm going," Wiggins said in a Tuesday interview. "I feel like I'll go to any team and I'll play just as hard. I don't really care where I go — I'm going to still try and do my best, play hard for the fans, play hard for the organization. And being a competitor, I would want to go No. 1, just to have that label."
(It's fine not to worry about where you're going, Andrew. Let Eric Koreen of the National Post do that for you.)
Some talent evaluators, like Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford, view Wiggins as the top prospect on the 2014 draft board, irrespective of position or team fit. Others, according to longtime NBA reporter Mark Heisler, view Embiid as the sort of franchise-shifting two-way big man organizations just can't pass up. Still others view Parker as perhaps the most ready-made scoring threat in the field, the player best able to help a team in need of an infusion of offense make a big leap quickly. However Tuesday's lottery and the June 26th draft play out, though, it seems clear that Wiggins not only considers himself a cut above, but that he's eager for the opportunity to prove it. That seems like good news for whichever organization winds up with the Ontario native.
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