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.
Andrew Wiggins Goes No. 1 as Canada Gets Back-to-Back Top Picks, Says He and LeBron ‘Would be Good Together’; Parker Goes No. 2 to Bucks, Embiid 3 to Sixers
NEW YORK — Andrew Wiggins continued the Canadian Invasion of the NBA by becoming the second straight No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft from North of the border.
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected the 6-foot-8 shooting guard out of Thornhill, Ontario by way of Kansas with the top pick over Duke forward Jabari Parker,who went No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks just as he had predicted this week.
“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” said Wiggins, the second No. 1 pick from Kansas following Danny Manning in 1988 . “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid. My dream was just to make the NBA. Now going to high school and college, the opportunity and possibility of going No. 1 came into talk, and now I accomplished all of that.
“So it’s just a crazy feeling right now. I don’t really know how to feel. It doesn’t even feel real right now.”
Wiggins was immediately asked about potentially playing with LeBron James, should King James come back to Cleveland after declaring for free agency.
“I want to win,” Wiggins said. “If he wants to win, we’d be good together.”
Wiggins was one of three Canadians taken in the top 18 picks. Michigan guard Nik Stauskas went No. 8 to the Sacramento Kings and Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis went No. 18 to the Phoenix Suns.
“Great thing for Toronto,” Wiggins said. “Great thing for Canada, actually. Before this, no player from Canada has been No. 1 and now we have two back-to-back No. 1s. So it’s a huge accomplishment for Canada.”
The Cavaliers had reportedly shopped the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, with Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times reporting that the Cavs asked for the No. 3, 10 and 32 picks from the Sixers.
At No. 3, the Sixers ended up taking Wiggins’s former Kansas teammate, 7-footer Joel Embiid. The Cameroon native fell from potentially being the No. 1 pick after reports surfaced that he had suffered a broken foot, for which he needed two screws inserted during surgery. That followed him missing the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments with a stress fracture in his back. He is expected to miss summer league and maybe part of the NBA season, but has a huge upside if healthy.
The Sixers have now drafted two injured big men in back-to-back years, following Nerlens Noel, who was coming off ACL surgery a year ago.
“He’s going to be great,” one source close to Embiid told SNY.tv. “He’s more talented and he can do more for a team than those other guys can do. He’s special.”
The Orlando Magic picked Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon at No. 4 and the Utah Jazz selected Australian combo guard Dante Exum — the International Man of Mystery in this Draft — at No. 5.
The Boston Celtics went with Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at No. 6, begging the question of whether they will trade Rajon Rondo.
The Lakers chose Kentucky power forward Julius Randle at No. 7; the Kings picked Stauskas at 8; the Charlotte Hornets picked Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh at 9 and the Sixers went with Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton at 10.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert reportedly wanted Wiggins, while general manager David Griffin and the rest of the front office preferred Parker.
No deal was consummated and so the Cavs made Wiggins their second straight Canadian No. 1, following his former AAU teammate Anthony Bennett.
The Cavaliers now have three Canadians on their roster, with power forward Tristan Thompson having been the No. 4 pick in 2011.
Ennis,Wiggins’s former AAU teammate with CIA Bounce, became the third Canadian taken in the top 18 picks when he went No. 18 to the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix has two point guards in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, but Bledsoe has an option this year.
“I had a really good workout in Phoenix,” Ennis said. “Their style of play fits mine, and I think with the young talent Phoenix has and me being a facilitator, I think it could really work well.”
The Suns won 48 games last season and also drafted high-scoring N.C. State wing T.J. Warren, who averaged 24.9 points and 7.1 rebounds last season.
“I think when you have talent on the wings as a point guard, to get up and down, we have some of the best athletes in the game,” Ennis said. “But with myself, I see myself not turning the ball over too much, and I think when you’re on the fast break running, you get vulnerable if you turn over the ball.
“I think I fit the system going up and down and finding guys in transition.”
“He’s really happy,” Tony McIntyre , Ennis’s father told SNY.tv. “It’s a team that he worked out for. He thought he did a great job there and he’s looking forward to going there and doing what he does, being able to pass the ball and be a true point guard.
“Obviously, the whole Steve Nash-Phoenix connection, he gets a chance to start off there and he gets to play for another team that’s orange.”
Asked if he would rack up the frequent-flyer miles going to Phoenix from Toronto, McIntyre said, “Absolutely, I’ll be there a lot.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.