Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Who can Andrew Wiggins be in the NBA?
ESPN.com’s Chad Ford has one thought.
“The guy he really reminds of the more he’s played in college is Paul George,” Ford told SNY.tv of the Kansas freshman whom he has projected as No.1 in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Pacers selected the 6-foot-9 George 10th overall in the 2010 Draft out of Fresno State, and Ford sees similarities in their skillsets.
“Very similar even at Fresno State,” he said. “You know, Paul George did not dominate every night. Even as a sophomore, NBA scouts would often walk away saying, ‘I’m not sure what the big deal is about it,’ except that almost in every Paul George game you would see one or two plays that he would make where you would say, ‘There’s not five guys in the NBA who can do that.’ He doesn’t do it consistently, he doesn’t take over games. But he has a certain combination of physical tools and skills that if all they all came together, he would be dominant.
“I’m not sure Paul George is a transcendent player, but that might be what you have to start looking at with a guy like a Wiggins.”
One veteran NBA scout said he could understand the Wiggins/George comparison.
“Special athleticism, great upside, playing both sides of the ball,” he said.
George has improved every year in the NBA and is currently averaging 23.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists for a Pacers team with the best record in the NBA despite Tuesday’s loss at Miami in which George didn’t get the foul call he wanted in the final seconds when LeBron James appeared to push him in the back.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told SNY.tv recently that none of the elite freshmen — Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Aaron Gordon — are “transcendent” the wayJames and Tim Duncan were.
“Right now I don’t see a transcendent player,” Ford said by way of agreement. “I see several players that have the potential to be that, but they’re not there yet.”
He added: “I don’t think they’ve disappointed but they haven’t shown that level where you’re like, this guy’s going to turn around your franchise. Andrew Wiggins looks a bit like a project right now, Embiid looks like a project. Randle and Parker are safer bets but you don’t quite see the ceiling with either player that says they’re going to turn into a top-10 player in the league.”
I wrote the other day about how Wiggins’ former point guard with CIA Bounce, Tyler Ennis, is succeeding at Syracuse, while Wiggins is still adjusting without a consistent point guard.
“I think the skillset’s all there [for Wiggins],” Ford said. “I just think it needs a lo of polishing. and I think he’s playing without a point guard at Kansas, which makes a difference for all of these young players.
“I think we might be talking a little bit different about Andrew Wiggins if Tyler Ennis was playing point for Kansas right now.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.