Andrew Wiggins Already Staring Down LeBron James?

Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins USA TODAY Sports

All of two months as a professional and before so much as competing in his first official NBA game, Andrew Wiggins already has a rival.

And mind you, we’re not talking just any foe here. Think along the lines of a four-time league MVP, two-time NBA champion and a player widely revered as the best Hoop Nation and all the universe has to offer.

Andrew could care less what LeBron James thinks of him,” Wiggins’ former high school coach Rob Fulford told after the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft was officially dealt from the Cavs to the Timberwolves last week for Kevin Love amid widespread chatter it was James who masterminded the entire episode.

Fueling Wiggins and his campers ire all the more is their insistence that from the night the Cavs selected Wiggins and James soon thereafter declared he was returning to his Cleveland roots, The King never once reached out to the impressionable 19-year-old, who up until that point, no doubt, had patterned at least certain aspects of his game in the image of the man he once viewed as one of his biggest idols.

“Andrew is such a good kid; he’s just a classy kid, very humble, very respectful,” added Fulford. “I think this whole process with the trade rumors, he could care less. The fact that LeBron never reached out to him … that kid just wants to play basketball.”

Indeed, all is not lost. For if simply making it onto the NBA stage affords one a chance of a lifetime, Wiggins being handpicked and bound for Minnesota might ultimately offer him the kind of good fortune one couldn’t reasonably assume to garner in some ten lifetimes.

Unlike in Cleveland, where he would have certainly been forced to take a backseat to James and Kyrie Irving and perhaps even Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, Wiggins will instantly become the face of the Wolves.

“Even though, in a weird way, everybody would love the opportunity to play with LeBron because you’re guaranteed winning, for the longevity of his career, he needs to develop that mindset to be the guy for him to be great,” said Bill Self, Wiggins coach at Kansas during his one season. “And I think being in Minnesota will help him do that.”

Through it all, the soft-spoken and seemingly well-adjusted Wiggins has been careful to say all the right things, preaching to anyone within earshot that the only concern that dogs his every waking moment is the hope of having a place to call home and the thought of playing for a team that truly craves what he brings to the table.

“Andrew’s going to be a superstar,” said Fulford. “This gives him a platform from Day 1 to kind of be the guy, and he’s ready for that.”

And coach Flip Saunders appears ready to entrust him with the responsibility of being the man, incorporating an up-tempo style of play that seems tailor-made for Wiggins’ ultra-athletic and slashing supreme skill set. During Love’s six-years in a Timberwolves’ uniform, Minnesota never once made the playoffs, but when Wiggins is formally introduced on Tuesday as a member of the organization, as the new face of the franchise, that kind of buzz will almost certainly be in the air.

“I don’t think there’s any question he’ll have a great rookie season,” said Fulford. “He’s groomed for this. In college he got better the year he was there, but he’ll be a better NBA player than he was a college player.”

Good enough to someday maybe even challenge The King in a duel.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.

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