The NBA Draft has been a months-long, three-man derby for No. 1. There have been myriad private workouts, and super-secret team interviews, and all the other methods teams use to gather pre-draft intel.
In the end, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have three choices when they select No. 1 overall on June 26: Former Kansas stars Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke phenom Jabari Parker.
Kansas coach Bill Self is admittedly biased, of course, but he’s hoping that Embiid, the emerging 7-foot center, and Wiggins, the lithe small forward, go No. 1 and No. 2 — in some order.
“We’re selfish,” Self said on Tuesday, during a summer Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We want Joel or Andrew to obviously go No. 1.”
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Self believes that both Embiid and Wiggins can transform into franchise players and perennial All-Stars at the next level. He mentions Embiid’s advanced footwork and that Wiggins’ skill-set has yet to catch up with his explosive athleticism. He believes both players’ games can translate to the NBA game. Just don’t ask Self who the Cavaliers should take No. 1.
“I’ll be emotional,” Self said, “but not such that I’m hoping one guy goes ahead of the other.”
During Tuesday’s teleconference, Self endorsed both Embiid and Wiggins’ pro potential, beginning with Embiid:
“He’s got a terrific frame,” Self said. “He’s a very, very, very good athlete and he’s a sponge. And the fact that he’s been playing three years and is this advanced is quite remarkable when you really look at the big scheme of things, especially for a big man.”
Self, meanwhile, believes Wiggins’ game could be even better suited to the more wide-open style in the NBA.
“The game will be open, they’ll be less help-side defense,” Self said. “It’s a little bit harder for teams to load up and basically have one-and-a-half guys guarding the ball in the NBA game. And that’s certainly what’s happened to him in college.”
Self was also asked to compare Wiggins and Parker, the former Duke star who displayed an advanced offensive skillset during his one season of college basketball. Wiggins and Parker both profile as small forwards, but Self sees them as different players at the next level.
“To me, Jabari is much more of an interior player than Andrew, and Andrew is much more of a perimeter player than Jabari,” Self said. “They’re different.”
In simple terms, Self sees Parker as a three-man who can slide down and play the four, while Wiggins is a three-man that could develop into a two.
“Andrew’s skillset hasn’t caught up to his athletic ability,” Self said. “And when it does, and I know he’s working hard on it, it’s going to set up his game so much better.”