Kansas’ Wiggins Joins Cavaliers
NEW YORK (AP) – Andrew Wiggins went No. 1, so he got to make the first pitch.
What would he say to LeBron James about joining him in Cleveland?
“I want to win,” Wiggins said. “If he wants to win, we’d be good together.”
Shabazz Napier is on his way to Miami, complete with James’ endorsement, so maybe he’s the key to keeping James right where he is.
“I would hope so,” Napier said. “He’s one of the best players in the world. So if me going there helps him come back, it just betters our chances of being a complete team.”
Welcome to today’s NBA, where even rookies are recruiters.
Long before the draft was over, the focus was already turning toward free agency, which kicks off July 1 with James and Carmelo Anthony as the top prizes.
So when the so-called experts make their draft grades, the one that matters most might have come from James himself on Twitter, shortly after Napier was selected by the Charlotte Hornets and dealt to the Heat in a trade that won’t become official until later Thursday.
“My favorite player in the draft! (hashtag) Napier,” James wrote.
Others may be better in a deep draft that was loaded with young talent.
That starts with Wiggins, whom the Cavaliers took with their second straight No. 1 overall pick. They’re hoping the Kansas freshman turns out better than fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett.
Thrilled to go first and even happier when Jayhawks teammate Joel Embiid went two picks later, Wiggins beamed in his black tuxedo jacket with a white floral pattern.
“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” Wiggins said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Bennett was injured last summer, came into the season out of shape and made no impact, one of the reasons the Cavs were back in this spot again.
But Wiggins seems a much more ready product after averaging a Kansas freshman-record 17.1 points. He might have ended up as the top pick anyway, but became the best option for the Cavs when Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot shortly before the draft.
After making Canada the only country besides the U.S. to have consecutive No. 1 picks, Wiggins slipped on a maroon Cleveland hat, hugged his supporters and went on stage to shake hands with Commissioner Adam Silver, who was calling the first round for the first time since replacing David Stern.
Milwaukee followed with another freshman, Duke forward Jabari Parker, who some consider the more NBA-ready player after an All-American season for the Blue Devils. Playing in Milwaukee puts him near his family in Chicago.
“I’m just very optimistic,” Parker said. “If it was 1, 2, put me at 60, just getting that opportunity, getting that chance of being in the NBA.”
Embiid went third to Philadelphia, drawing loud cheers from the many red-and-blue dressed 76ers fans who made the trip to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as well as from Philadelphia guard Michael Carter-Williams, last season’s Rookie of the Year who was sitting on the arena floor level.
The 76ers had two top-10 picks and could afford to take a chance on Embiid, the big man who may have ended up the top prize despite his lone season at Kansas ending early because of a bad back.
But once the foot injury popped up during workouts, leaving his NBA debut uncertain after surgery, the two teams at the top passed.
“He worked so hard,” Wiggins said. “He didn’t let nothing get to him. He always stayed motivated. So I’m just proud. It’s a proud moment for Kansas.