That is the question we are left with as Summer League comes to a close and the Minnesota Timberwolves continue their efforts to trade Kevin Love — but only if there is a bushel of goodies coming back.
On draft night, Wiggins, the super-athletic wing from the University of Kansas, was poised to be Kyrie Irving’s running mate and part of a core that had endless potential moving forward. A lot has changed since June 26th, with four No. 1 overall picks currently sitting on the Cavs roster, one of whom just made a homecoming that was kind of big deal.
Landing LeBron James changes everything moving forward for the Cavs, who are now clearly in win-now mode, as LeBron’s ability to opt out after his first season puts immediate pressure on the front office to build a championship-level roster. Wiggins clearly has the long-term potential that comes with being the number one overall pick in a strong draft, but with Love so available, the Cavs need to weigh whether Wiggins’ immediate production is enough to keep him around as a long-term investment.
The positives are hard to miss with Wiggins. He is an incredible athlete, and he competes hard at both ends of the floor.
You can clearly see from his body language and facial expressions that he is engaged and passionate about the game, which bodes well for him moving forward. He does not shy away from contact, coming from the outside aggressively for rebounds, and did a great job of getting himself to the free throw line, getting to the line for 20 attempts in one Summer League against Houston. He looked like a significantly longer, more aggressive version of Demar DeRozan, who came out of USC after one year, although with more upside.
While Wiggins has a natural feel for the game, when seeing him play among men it is very clear that he is 19 years old. His decision-making is sub-par, as is evident by his 2.75 TO to 0.3 AS. These numbers aren’t too surprising after his 0.68 A/T ratio in Kansas, and it is clear that Wiggins will need to elevate himself in the mental aspects of the game if he is ever to become a player who can lead a team deep into the playoffs. He did not shoot the ball well in Summer League, but that is not typically an indicator of overall ability since things are a little bit different in a more structured team system.
Wiggins’ summer league performance leaves little doubt that he is a blue chip NBA prospect moving forward, but right now he is not at the level to be a top three contributor on a championship contending team. In theory, Wiggins could be a fantastic support piece to a LeBron James-led team playing in David Blatt’s schemes that don’t always pigeonhole players into classic positions and roles.
His versatility, athleticism, and competitiveness would surely be an added benefit, but he doesn’t provide that “third guy in a big three” level of reliability seen as a prerequisite to a championship team in the modern era.
It also can be debated whether Wiggins will truly be able to develop into the go-to guy he seems destined to become playing as a role player next to James and Irving. If the Cavaliers hang onto him, it’s not a sure thing he will develop into an all-NBA type talent like he would if he got to be a focal point like Jabari Parker will likely get to do in Milwaukee.
While on the face it may seem hard to justify trading two No. 1 overall picks for Kevin Love, which is most likely the case with Anthony Bennett’s (who has looked much improved in Vegas) name being included in trade talks, it is definitely something the Cavs need to consider. Love is the type of sweet-shooting, super-rebounding big man that has thrived in the past in Blatt’s system, who will likely see far more wide open looks playing alongside James and Irving.
It should also be noted that after playing with Team USA, Love has proven to have the mentality to play the role of Chris Bosh, in which there are reduced stats and a reduced role offensively, because he will understand that his effectiveness and contribution to wins is more valuable. This makes Love one of the most ideal candidates to team up with James in Cleveland, and significantly increases the Cavs’ odds of taking a title this year.
There is no question that Wiggins is a fantastic prospect who will likely have a very memorable NBA career.
But, at 19 years old, he is clearly not ready to be relied upon as a member of a championship-level team, like Love would be.
AJ Mitnick is an American living in Israel and working as an assistant coach for Maccabi Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Basketball Super League. A graduate of IDC Herzliya, Mitnick is in his third season with Maccabi Rishon, where they have made the Israeli League Final Four, and have twice made the Final Four of the Israeli State Cup . Follow him on Twitter.