Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) walks off stage after being selected as the number one overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers: Trade A Career Catastrophe For Andrew Wiggins?

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Soon, Andrew Wiggins will no longer be a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He will be headed to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a trade that will ultimately bring Kevin Love to Cleveland.

So while he’s still technically on the roster, I thought I’d write something about him and what he’ll be missing in Cavsland where a new era is brewing.

And it’s not just that he’ll be missing it. It’s the impact of what will happen to his career by missing out on this new “super team.” It could be and most likely will be huge.

Now look, we’ve heard that Wiggins told his former Kansas coach Bill Self that he wanted to be traded and I don’t think playing in Minnesota will be the worst thing ever for the young player. I mean, he’ll have the extremely athletic Zach LaVine as a running mate, as well as Ricky Rubio throwing lobs this way and that and a still-learning Nikola Pekovic down low.

Heck, they’re already in possession of the League Pass championship belt for this season as far as I’m concerned.

So don’t worry, ‘Sota. At least your team will be the most Vine-worthy in the league.

But back to the topic at hand. Wiggins’ career. Though moving to ‘Sota won’t be detrimental to his progress, leaving Cleveland sure won’t help.

Can you imagine if the Cavs had managed to retain Wiggins? A lineup consisting of him, Kyrie, LeBron James, Love and Anderson Varejao would have been baffling.

Throw in that he would be able to pick the brain of James, who had to go through much of the same media attention as Wiggins, and he might have already been off to a better start. His basketball IQ would certainly rise with such intelligent players on the roster, he would be in a city full of rabid fans due to James’ return and his game would fit in well with the rest of the club.

In fact, though he’ll certainly get more playtime in Minny, it’s likely Wiggins would have had a much better chance to win Rookie of the Year had he been left in Cleveland. His team would make the playoffs and all he would have to do would be to run the floor as fast as Love could zip him an outlet pass or LeBron/Irving could toss him a lob.

His tenacious defense would help the team get lots of steals and send them off down the court on the fast break where they’d be nearly unstoppable.

Along with his immediate future, history says being traded from Cleveland will affect the first portion of his career; that being about the first five years or so at least. If the list of first overall picks who have won titles tells us anything, it’s that Cleveland over Minnesota would be a no-brainer.

I’m going as far back as 1969 here, the year Kareem-Abdul Jabbar was taken first overall. The number of players on this list who became superstars on their own and won at least one ring is decently short.

Even shorter is the list of who was able to win a ring without the help of at least one other Hall of Famer. Let’s look at some players you might recognize who did need help:

1969 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1979 – Magic Johnson

  • Won his first title in year one
  • HoFer Teammate(s): Kareem, Jamaal Wilkes

1982 – James Worthy

  • Won his first title in year two
  • HoFer Teammate(s): Kareem, Magic, Wilkes

1989 – David Robinson

  • Won his first title in year eight
  • HoFer Teammate(s): Tim Duncan

1992 – Shaquille O’Neal

  • Won his first title in year seven
  • HoFer Teammate(s): Kobe Bryant

1997 – Tim Duncan

  • Won his first title in year two
  • HoFer Teammate(s): David Robinson

2003 – LeBron James

None of these players would have been able to win a championship without the aid of their superstar counterparts. However, there is one player who strangely doesn’t fit this list and was able to win his first title without the help of a Hall of Famer. That would be:

1984 – Hakeem Olajuwon

  • Won his first title in year nine
  • HoFer Teammate(s): None

That in itself is insane and basically never happens. Then, there is the list of superstar talents who were never able to acquire the help they needed and thus never won despite putting up monster statistics. A couple being:

1985 – Patrick Ewing

  • Career playoffs: 20.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.2 bpg, 46.9 FG%, 37.5 minutes per game
  • Playoffs with Finals Appearance (1993-94): 21.9 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3spg, 3.0bpg, 43.7 FG%, 41.3 minutes per game

1996 – Allen Iverson

  • Career playoffs: 29.7 ppg, 6.0 apg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 spg, 40.1 FG%, 45.1 minutes per game
  • Playoffs with Finals Appearance (2000-01): 32.9 ppg, 6.1 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 spg, 38.9 FG%, 46.2 minutes per game

No first overall pick since LeBron in 2003 has managed to win a championship. And without the proper help, history says that it’s pretty likely none of them will.

The two most likely to succeed out of the group since that time are Blake Griffin and Kyrie Irving, who now both have Hall of Famer help at their sides in Chris Paul and LeBron James.

So where does this leave first pick Andrew Wiggins? Out on a Hall of Famer-less island, where before he had the help of one surefire player headed for the Hall and perhaps one more in Love.

If the ultimate goal of every NBA player is to win a title (it’s not always, but we must assume so), things aren’t looking so good for Wiggins’ first few years in the league.

But who knows? Maybe LaVine will turn himself into a superstar caliber player. Maybe Minnesota will manage to acquire some Hall of Famer-type talent somehow over the next few years. Maybe Wiggins himself won’t turn out to be a superstar.

It’s all a guessing game at this point. But as the old saying goes, history is bound to repeat itself. And in that case, perhaps the young Canadian should start recruiting Kevin Durant right now.

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