According to every basketball writer in the world, Cleveland Cavaliers GM LeBron James will trade this year’s number one overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, as well as last year’s number one overall pick, Michael Bennett, to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with one or more future first round picks for Kevin Love. Though it has been lost in the media feeding frenzy surrounding LeBron’s return to Cleveland, one of the most remarkable NBA stories over the past year has been how Andrew Wiggins has gone from being the greatest draft prospect since LeBron James and someone who could singlehandedly turn around a team to being merely part of a package of players to be offered for one year’s worth of Kevin Love, a player who has demonstrated no ability to singlehandedly turn around an NBA team.
Though he didn’t take the NCAA by storm in his lone year at Kansas, Andrew Wiggins did show enough promise to justify being the first player selected in one of the deepest drafts in years. With his incredible quickness and jumping ability, Wiggins should be a formidable defender right out of the gate though his offensive game may need a few years of development. Kevin Love, though a great rebounder, is considered to be a below average defender.
Regardless of Andrew Wiggins’ potential or Kevin Love’s shortcomings, Love will almost certainly be a better player than Wiggins next year, but that should not be considered reason enough to justify making this trade. If LeBron was only planning to play one more year and retire, than this deal would make perfect sense, but since LeBron would still love to match Michael Jordan’s six titles, he should be thinking further down the road than next year. Even with its current roster, Cleveland would be the clear favourite to win the Eastern conference. Those who have said that LeBron cannot win right away with this group of players should go back and look at who LeBron had on his team when he took the Cavaliers to the Finals. There wasn’t another player on that team anywhere near as good as either Kyrie Irving or Andrew Wiggins.
LeBron James is right to want Kevin Love on his team, it’s just that trading Andrew Wiggins is not the way to do it. The smarter approach would be to play this year with his current teammates, and then sign Kevin Love as free agent in the offseason without having to give up any players or draft picks. The danger in trading for Kevin Love now is that he may decide after next year that he would rather go back to southern California. Why would LeBron take a path that risks ending up with neither player when there is an option that offers the potential of ending up with both players? Kevin Love may well have already giving LeBron his word that he would sign a long term deal in Cleveland, but nobody understands better than LeBron James that a star player’s promises mean nothing without a signed contract.