Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were taken first and second, respectively, by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Draft on Thursday, and Drew Nicholas believes both franchises made the right play.
“Yeah, I definitely agree (with those choices),” the former NCAA champion and current ESPN analyst said on The MoJo Show. “I think if you get Parker, you probably get a little bit more right now. But potentially down the road – three, four, five years from now – Andrew Wiggins has the potential, if he can put it all together, to be another superstar in this league.”
“But if I was in Vegas, I would put money on (Parker) being the Rookie of the Year next year,” Nicholas continued. “I think he’s the one guy in the draft who can step in right away and put up numbers – like 17 (points) and 8 (rebounds) – or numbers similar that he put up at Duke this year. But again, either one of those two guys, I don’t think you’re going wrong.”
The NBA Draft always offers an intriguing power struggle – not only between teams, but also within them. Head coaches and general managers typically want players who can contribute right away, while owners are usually more willing to invest in a project.
“It depends upon the person that you’re talking to,” Nicholas said. “If you’re talking to a head coach or a general manager, you’re probably looking at (a player who can contribute) right away – because your job (depends on it). From an owner’s perspective, you’re looking at longevity. You’re looking at the player who’s going to be able to help you for the next five to seven to 10 years.”
“So that’s why it’s so interesting in those draft rooms. You’ve got different guys’ agendas,” Nicholas continued. “And obviously the head coach and the general manager, they want to make sure that they’re winning games so they continue to have a job.”
While Wiggins and Parker were one-and-done players, two four-year players got some first-round love on draft night, including Doug McDermott, who was taken ninth overall by Denver and promptly dealt to Chicago.
“I think he’s going to be a solid pro,” Nicholas said. “I think he does have a ceiling. I’m not sure if he’s ever going to be an All-Star type player, but I do think he’ll be somebody who can come in and be able to score the basketball. I think he’s got to work defensively a little bit ad get his body in a little bit better shape – because I’m not sure which position in the pros he’s going to be able to defend. But obviously we’ve seen all along his college career, the kid can put the ball in the basket – and that’s always at a premium in the NBA.”
And then there’s Shabazz Napier, who won two national title at Connecticut. Napier was taken 24th overall by Miami.
“That’s a little bit more interesting to me,” said Nicholas, who won a national championship at Maryland in 2002. “Napier’s the type of point guard that needs the ball in his hands. I’m not sure that he’s a pass-first point guard. I’m not sure (that the Heat are going to) give him the basketball and say, ‘Go ahead, this is your show’ – because he’s not a top-five talent. It’s going to be an interesting adjustment to see how he handles himself going into the pros.”