We’re just one day removed from a report that Kansas center Joel Embiid was on track to be the top pick in the NBA Draft.
Then, the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame the odds to win the lottery.
With the Cavs set to pick first for the second time in as many years, all signs point to the team select Embiid’s teammate, Andrew Wiggins, being the No. 1 pick, sources in Cleveland tell ESPN NBA Draft insider Chad Ford.
I thought they’d go safe and bring in Parker. However, my sources in Cleveland indicate Wiggins is the likelier choice at this early stage. They feel he has the most long-term potential, helps them defensively right out of the gate, and can replace Dion Waiters in the starting lineup while adding character to the team.
Ford expected the Cavs to go after Duke’s Jabari Parker, who brings “high character” and is a “versatile scoring threat,” which would pair well with point guard Kyrie Irving. Parker is considered the “safe pick” among the top three prospects.
Embiid was also in the mix, as center Anderson Varejao is 32 years old and reportedly is on the trade block this summer. There are concerns about his back, though, and his agent may be unwilling to hand over the medical records.
But with Waiters possibly on his way out of town, Wiggins makes sense as his replacement in the lineup.
On SportsCenter Wednesday morning, former NBA executive Tom Penn called Wiggins is the most “splendid” talent who makes sense for Cleveland.
“I love Andrew Wiggins at No. 1. He’s the most splendid talent in the draft, what you look for at the top is the chance to get a star, someone that is just going to dazzle. He dazzles with his talent. We’ve heard about his explosive leaping ability. He can score the ball in multiple ways. He plays both ends of the quarter.
“But he’s young. The question is if he’s an alpha dog. Does he have that takeover mentality? …He can develop into that as he grows and evolves. You get the tingles when you see him at times, when you see how exceptional of a talent he is. He’s a great pick at No. 1”
Of course, Cavaliers general manager Davis Griffin remains adamant that the team doesn’t have a consensus top choice, but could opt to select the best overall player.
“I don’t think there’s a clear cut number one in most drafts,” Griffin said. “And I think people, when they say that, they have a really strong feeling for one player over another. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a consensus in most drafts.
“We’re going to try to get radically better much quicker. We really feel like there’s a sense of urgency about improving our team as a whole, and we’re going to look for the right fit in (accomplishing) that. We’re very open-minded in what that means.”
Of course, things can change between now and June 26. More light can be shed on Embiid’s back. The Cavs may wind up viewing Parker is the safer choice.