Stepien Rules Andrew Wiggins

LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins and the Cavaliers No. 1 Pick

We now live in a galaxy of the NBA universe where it seems reasonable to suggest that LeBron James could return to the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. There is even a portion of my brain that believes it might actually happen. Just before swerving off the road into on-coming traffic yesterday, I even considered the possibility of Carmelo Anthony coming with him.

Thankfully, just as I realized what was happening, I regained control of my car, splashed a bottle of Dasani water on my face, and continued my journey to Subway.

Despite the avalanche of narratives that erupted after Rich Paul informed the Miami Heat that James would be opting out of his contract to become a free agent, we need to get a hold of ourselves. Now is not the time to swerve off the road while dreaming of NBA domination and victory parades on our way to lunch.

As we were once told many years ago, the draft is Thursday.

It is an important and monumental draft for the Cavaliers franchise. We all must use Twitter’s proverbial mute function to block everything else out and focus on the task at hand.

The Cavs have an opportunity to select a potential All-Star on June 26. The player they draft will have no choice but to play in Cleveland. No matter who else does or doesn’t decide to come back. After successfully completing his coaching search–by hiring both of his top two candidates–this pick is now the most important decision of David Griffin’s professional life.

Hopefully, he wakes up on Thursday morning with that catchy but awful Drake song stuck in his head.

Draft A. Wiggins

I was convinced and excited about the possibility of bringing Joel Embiid to Cleveland with the first overall selection. When healthy, he is a rare and special talent who has the ability to impact games at both ends of the floor. He’s looked at times like a young Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s really good at basketball. But he isn’t healthy. We all know that now, even if people like me didn’t want to believe it before.

Embiid is too risky and he’s off the board at No. 1. His back was an issue and now his foot is an issue. There are too many red flags, especially with a player like Andrew Christian Wiggins sitting alongside him in the green room.

Wiggins is an overwhelming athlete. He is without question the most athletic player in the draft. He might even be the best athlete to enter the draft since Russell Westbrook. His upside is limitless and his skill-set is obvious. Wiggins averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a freshman at Kansas. He went for 20 or more 11 times, highlighted by a 41-point effort against West Virginia and a 30-point outing against Oklahoma State.

As a 19-year-old, he’s accomplished enough on the major-college level to get my endorsement. And he can also make basketball plays like this.

Wiggins fills an immediate need on the wing for the Cavs. He’s a versatile scorer who adds size and strength on the perimeter. He also possesses the athleticism necessary to develop into a premier defender at the next level. Even with the option of Jabari Parker, this decision isn’t really that hard. Draft Wiggins and get out of there.

Trading the pick and Jabari Parker

I’m not trading the first overall pick for Thaddeus Young. I’m not trading it for Derrick Favors. I’m not trading it for Aaron Afflalo and the No. 13 pick and I’m also not trading it for one guaranteed season of Kevin Love. As much as I’d prefer the Cavaliers select Wiggins at this point, I’d also rather they take Jabari Parker before trading the chance at either player away.

Unless the Cavaliers are receiving a legitimate All-Star in return, who is under a manageable contract for at least three seasons, I don’t even consider it. Even if an offer like that was on the table, I’m still not sure I would do it. Whether it’s Parker or Wiggins, the Cavaliers will add a starter—or potential All-Star— for the next several seasons. The player they select would be under Cleveland’s control on a team-friendly, rookie contract that adds significant value under the new CBA.

You have to make this pick. You really can’t trade it.

There isn’t much I don’t like about Parker’s game. But I do think the notion that he is much more ready for the NBA than Wiggins is a bit overblown. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds—obviously better than the numbers Wiggins put up, but not really that much better. In last year’s draft, I’d have taken Parker first overall without as much as a second thought. I don’t think he’s overweight and I definitely don’t believe he tanked any workouts. I respect his game and think he will succeed on the NBA level. I just can’t take him on Thursday at the expense of passing on Wiggins.

Oh, and Parker also fired Klutch Sports just prior to the NBA Draft Combine so if you needed another reason…forget it. Not important. Shouldn’t have even brought it up.

Just draft Wiggins.

Blatt Press Conference Today at 1pm: I’ll be on hand for David Blatt’s press conference today in Independence. Be back later with more from all that. Good luck today Cavs fans, keep your eyes on the road. There’s a lot of things happening out there.

Photo: The Associated Press

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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