Since the return of LeBron James to the Cavaliers, the biggest speculation around town is whether or not the Cavs should deal Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in the draft to obtain Kevin Love, one of the league’s premier players.
Because Love is just 25-years-old, it really is a no-brainer. Love IS one of the NBA’s top 20 players, and that’s conservative. Wiggins MAY be one of the league’s top 20 players someday. It is just that simple.
Here is looking at it another way. James will turn 30 years old this December, meaning he will be the LeBron James he is right now for another 4-5 years. That’s the kind of window Cleveland likely has to win titles.
Now think of Kyrie Irving, the first overall pick in 2011, now entering his fourth year in the NBA. We can all agree that Irving is a very good player right now, but he’s not an elite one at this point.
Let’s say that Wiggins has a similar career path as Irving. He makes an impact his rookie season, and gets a little better each year in the league in his second and third seasons. As we just said, that would make Wiggins a very good player, but he still wouldn’t be an elite player.
Kevin Love is that right now.
Some fans have painted a picture of Love as a “stretch four”. To us, that is selling the big man out of UCLA short.
Rashard Lewis is a stretch four. Ryan Anderson is a stretch four. Yes, Love is a very good shooter with three-point range, but he’s also one of the top rebounders in the sport, capable of getting 20 in a game.
He also has the best outlet pass since Wes Unseld played in the league in the 60’s and 70’s.
He’s a lot more than a stretch four.
The other question about Love is his defense. He’s not regarded as a great defensive player. We say that the first thing about becoming a solid player when the other team has the ball is desire. And don’t you think that Love, and Irving for that matter will pay more attention on the defensive end of the floor, particularly when the game’s best player is on their team and demanding everyone give maximum effort on that end of the floor?
Also, coaches can scheme defensively to hide weaker defenders or provide help to those players. Good coaches teach a sound defensive philosophy that will help any player who wants to get better on defense.
A team led by James, Love, and Kyrie Irving would become an instant championship contender. All three can score, and James and Love are both very good passers. James and Irving can get to the rim with the best in the league, and a defense that collapses on them will have to deal with Love on the perimeter and near the basket.
However, the real point is this. The Cavaliers can be a title contender by getting another of the league’s elite players in Love, and if you have to give up a player who has never played one minute in the NBA, the question is why wouldn’t you do it.
Outside of James, who was the last first overall pick, or any rookie for that matter, who stepped right in to the league and was a force immediately. Even if Wiggins is someday going to be a great player, it likely will not be for three to four years, at which time LeBron James will be nearing the end of his dominance.
It really shouldn’t even be a question. If you have to give up Wiggins to get Kevin Love. You have to do it.