The big downside to the hypothetical is one of competition. You never want to knowingly forfeit your right to compete against the best available talent. For Wiggins, that means big-time college basketball, which he’ll get playing at Kansas. But the pros of the theory are a lot bigger than you’d initially imagine.
Consider this: Wiggins’ hype is at an all-time high. If he’d been able to declare for the NBA draft right out of high school, there’s no question Cleveland is taking him with the No. 1 pick this past June. But there’s an age restriction, so Wiggins decided on Kansas.
Let’s say â€” God forbid â€” Wiggins blows out his ACL this season like Nerlens Noel did mid-way through his freshman year at Kentucky. That would mean he’s probably going to be passed over for Julius Randle, Aussie Dante ExumAaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart or any of the other top-flight prospects before next summer’s draft. Not only that, but his sneaker contract, which analysts say may be the largest ever for someone that hasn’t donned an NBA uniform yet, is immediately in question.
In a perfect world, Wiggins’ year at Kansas showcases why he’s considered the best pro prospect since ‘Bron, and he’s selected with the first pick. But, purely from a business perspective, it makes more sense for him not to play.
If it were a risk management consultant we were talking to, he’d tell us Wiggins should sit out a year, get stronger with Grover, then declare for the 2014 draft without risking injury or a drop-off in the league-wide belief he’s the best player available in June.
If I'm Andrew Wiggins, I don't play college ball. Risky, no upside. I hire Tim Grover and work out like a beast until the draft.
— Josh Gotthelf (@DimeJosh) October 16, 2013
But that route flies in the face of all the competitive instincts that make players of Wiggins’ caliber, superstars. He wants to compete against the best, and taking a year off â€” just on the slight chance he suffers a career-threatening injury, or his play underwhelms scouts â€” simply isn’t a part of a competitive athlete’s personality.
Most of the responses on Twitter acknowledged this component more than any other:
@DimeJosh Competition is everything, tho. That's the upside… To be able to prove you're the best.
— BC (@BryanCraw4D) October 16, 2013
@DimeJosh Disagree. From talent POV, there's little upside (he's No. 1 regardless) but this is chance to show teams team play and winning
— Ming Wong (@HOOPmag) October 16, 2013
@DimeJosh Don't you think that would cause fan backlash? He wouldn't want to come in to the league with people questioning his talent
— Rawan (@itsRawanE) October 16, 2013