Andrew Wiggins, arguably the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. He hasn’t played a single second of NBA basketball and yet he is in serious trade rumors for a 3 time All-Star. Not only that, but some still believe Cleveland shouldn’t commit to the trade because Wiggins is just too valuable (and they could be right). Make no mistake; hype/potential is a very powerful entity in the world of professional basketball. In 99% of circumstances I would say that given the choice between a young player with a ton of potential and a proven superstar, you have to choose the superstar, but this is that 1% and I will explain why.
For starters, out of the other superstars in the league: Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Chris Paul, Paul George, Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard and I could be talked into LaMarcus Aldridge and John Wall, Kevin “Empty Stats” Love is the most overrated of all of them (I didn’t forgot LeBron or Durant, there just in a league of there own). In his 6 year NBA career he has failed to make a single playoff appearance, granted two of those years he was predominantly a bench player and his 2012-13 season was cut short due to him believing that a 6 foot 10 inch, 245lbs man should do knuckle push ups. That aside it still just isn’t good enough, all other previously mentioned superstars have all made the playoffs at least once and each of them have made at least the second round. Not only that, but 6 of those superstars have all had equal to or less years then Love has had to do so.
There is good reason behind this lack of playoff experience, a major one being that Love just isn’t conditioned enough for a player of his caliber. He looks more lethargic then most towards the end of ball games, which is a big reason why the Timberwolves had a 6-13 record in games decided by 4 points or less last season. His +/- averages for days rest in between games is only ever in negatives when he hasn’t had a day’s rest, which is another indication of a lack of conditioning. He often looks lost on defense and at times it seems as though he is just waiting around to grab the easy rebound and try to make up for his nonexistent rim protection by trying to make his impact on offense with either a transition 3 or a crisp outlet pass. Yes, his stats are extraordinary, but when they have never produced a winning record, what good are they?
That got a little brutal, I apologize, but it had to be said, giving up on Wiggins before his NBA career has even began seems ludicrous, especially with all of Love’s glaring defensive flaws. Defence wins championships and Cleveland will have a very scarce amount of it if they team up Kyrie Irving with Love. I’m not sure if anyone has told Dan Gilbert, but LeBron can’t guard everybody (although I’m sure he will try). Dion is somewhat underrated as a defender; Matthew Dellavedova is an absolute Pit bull and Varejao is excellent when healthy, but none of them are elite level defenders like Wiggins can become in a very short amount of time. Not only could Wiggins very well make an All-NBA defensive team this year, but with LeBron as his mentor and training partner, an All-Star appearance isn’t completely implausible, especially with a shooting guard light eastern conference.
The other part of the rumored trade is 2012 draft 1st overall pick Anthony Bennett. I won’t sugar coat this, last year the overweight Bennett looked absolutely atrocious. I was convinced that he was a bust from the get go, I now will admit that I was wrong. Full credit to him, he has gotten somewhat into shape over the start of the off-season, he came into the summer league confident and ready to display his aggressiveness on the boards and an impressive shooting touch. If he keeps working himself into an NBA ready fitness, and displays the leadership and team mentality he did at UNLV, he could become a Thaddeus Young/ David West hybrid and prove to be a very solid starter someday in the NBA.
In my opinion, Kevin Love doesn’t get Cleveland any closer to winning an NBA title this year because there are 3 devastating teams in the western conference (Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs) ready to obliterate whatever eastern team they face in the finals (except potentially the Bulls depending on how Rose returns from injury and a few other factors, but I digress). So why not keep Wiggins who could potentially make a huge impact as early as this year, as well as the surprisingly promising Anthony Bennett and allow The King to mold these young players into winners and two way players like himself, instead of feeling as though you have to go “all in” this year and grab the best available talent, who just happens to not have done his job properly for the last 6 years (his job being, winning basketball games). Let the King develop his team, it’s something he has never done before, but if it’s like anything else he does, he will be damn good at it.