Wiggins the smart choice for Cavaliers

In February of last year, Marietta College’s junior varsity basketball team found out first-hand just how good Andrew Wiggins is.

Actually, good doesn’t even describe it.

Wiggins, a senior at Huntington Prep (W. Va.) at the time, played in an exhibition against the Pioneers’ reserves and dropped 57 points in 38 minutes on 24-of-28 shooting in front of a Point Pleasant High gym packed with people trying to get a glimpse of basketball’s next big superstar.

While the players for Marietta’s JV squad will always have a cool story to tell from that game, for Wiggins, it was just another night.

Fast-forward about a year-and-a-half and Wiggins was taken as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers – a little more than just another night.

The Cavs are hoping it is one of many memorable nights in Wiggins’ NBA career.

Wiggins (6-foot-8, 197 pounds) will likely play as a small forward in the NBA. He averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a freshman at Kansas last season.

Experts were divided on whether or not Wiggins was the top prospect coming into the draft. Duke’s Jabari Parker and Wiggins’ Jayhawks teammate Joel Embiid were also potential picks for the Cavs at the top spot. There was also a lot of speculation that the Cavs would trade the pick. In the end, Cleveland’s staff determined that Wiggins had the most upside and was the way to go.

This was the smart pick for the Cavs to make. They needed a small forward. They got the best small forward available. And he’s 19 years old, folks. He’s only going to get better and stronger.

Wiggins, Canadian-born, will join a Cavs team with a talented, young roster and plenty of cap space to lure potential free agents. Wiggins joins Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett as top overall picks on the Cavaliers’ roster. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson were both fourth overall picks as well, so first-year head coach David Blatt should have plenty to work with.

Now just throw LeBron James into the mix and the Cavs aren’t looking too bad, eh?

Wasn’t it refreshing to see a professional sports commissioner approach the podium at a draft and not get booed?

First-year NBA commish Adam Silver has done a fantastic job so far in the role, starting with his handling of the Donald Sterling situation.

He continued to display pure class at Thursday’s draft when he took a moment between the 15th and 16th picks to honor Baylor’s Isaiah Austin.

Just seven days ago, Austin was projected to be drafted at some point Thursday. However, doctors discovered on June 21 that Austin has a disorder known as Marfan syndrome, which affects the body’s connective tissue. Austin was advised to stop playing competitive basketball due to the risk of rupturing his heart.

Can you imagine? To go from thinking you’re about to begin an NBA career to finding out you can never play organized basketball again. You can’t help but feel for the young man.

That’s what made Silver’s actions so special.

Silver momentarily paused the draft right before the Chicago Bulls were about to make the 16th pick. Because of Austin’s condition, he was obviously wiped off of every NBA team’s draft board.

For Silver, though, Austin’s name was at the top.

“With the next pick in the NBA Draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin,” Silver told the crowd as Austin walked toward the stage, wiping tears from his face.

Austin had always dreamed of his name being called at the NBA Draft. Even though he may never play a minute in the NBA, he was able to realize that dream thanks to Mr. Silver.

Well done, commish.

Jordan Holland is a sports writer for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at 740-376-5449 or at jholland@mariettatimes.com.