INDEPENDENCE — If Andrew Wiggins’ game is as eye-catching as his sports coat, the Cavaliers landed one heck of a player.
Clad in a white dress shirt, black bow tie and wild, black jacket filled with multiple white line drawings of leaves, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Kansas swingman was taken by Cleveland with the No. 1 pick Thursday in the NBA Draft.
“A lot,” Wiggins said when asked how many comments he had gotten on his jacket. “That’s what I was going for.”
“I almost changed my mind when I saw it,” quipped Cavs general manager David Griffin. “I told him that, too.”
The Cavs, who listened to numerous trade offers prior to making the selection, got athleticism, playmaking ability and vast potential in Wiggins, their third No. 1 pick in four years.
“The sky is the limit for you, this franchise and this city…Let’s go!” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert posted on his Twitter account while welcoming Wiggins to Cleveland.
Wiggins, a 19-year-old from Thornhill, Ontario, averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 rebounds while earning second-team All-America honors as a Kansas freshman. He shot .448 from the field, .341 on 3-pointers, .775 from the line and held the players he defended to 38 percent shooting.
“We knew for quite some time who we wanted to take if we kept the pick,” said Griffin, who added the Cavs “had some really spirited debate about trade options that were available” but pointed out most of the rumored deals were erroneous.
“Andrew’s a player we thought had the most upside in the draft,” the GM added. “He’s also a player we’re very excited to have as a part of our family.”
Griffin acknowledged there were times when Wiggins became passive at Kansas, but is confident he will improve in that area.
“Andrew understands there’s another level of his game we want him to find,” he said.
Wiggins, who owns a 44-inch vertical leap and, according to Griffin, could still be growing, has great genes. His mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, was an Olympic sprinter for Canada, and his father, Mitchell, spent six seasons with the Chicago Bulls after playing at Florida State.
“(My dad) was always there for me because he’s experienced,” Wiggins said. “He’s been there, he’s done that. So he knows right from wrong, and he’s always leading me in the right direction. That’s why I lean to him and my mother.”
Wiggins, who played his high school ball at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, made no secret of wanting to be the No. 1 pick in the days leading up to the draft, while Duke’s Jabari Parker, the other player under consideration by the Cavs, correctly predicted he’d go No. 2 to Milwaukee.
“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” Wiggins said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid.”
Said Griffin: “It certainly did come down to those two players for us. It was not a situation where we deliberated until the very, very end.”
Wiggins can play shooting guard and small forward, but he will probably see more action at the latter until his perimeter shooting and ballhandling catch up to the rest of his game. Wherever he plays, he vows to compete.
“On the court, it doesn’t matter who I’m going against, I’m going to go hard,” he said. “I’m going to go to win and kill.”
Wiggins said he talked to new Cavs coach David Blatt last week when both were in town and is eager to play for him.
“I asked around,” Wiggins said. “No player has never not liked him. He’s a great coach and I think he’s going to do great things for our team.”
Asked about potentially playing with LeBron James, who will become a free agent Tuesday, Wiggins said, “I want to win. If he wants to win, we’d be good together.”
Nos. 33 and 45
With their second-round pick, No. 33 overall, the Cavs chose 6-6, 225-pound Virginia shooting guard Joe Harris, a 22-year-old who averaged 12.0 points as a senior and finished his career third in school history with 263 3-pointers.
Cleveland also traded Alonzo Gee to Charlotte for the No. 45 selection, 6-11, 240-pound Stanford power forward Dwight Powell, who played four years and averaged 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds. The Cavs, who made no announcement of the deal by press time, will take on the $2 million contract of veteran center Brendan Haywood as part of the trade, an anonymous source told the Associated Press.
Harris shot .407 from behind the arc over his four seasons and could help address Griffin’s desire for a better “fit” and more perimeter shooting in Cleveland.
“Joe Harris is a very good complementary piece to us as a shooter, someone we had rated much higher than 33,” Griffin said. “From a fit standpoint, he’s ideal. … From a human standpoint and working standpoint, he’s going to be everything we want our franchise to be about.”
Harris, who averaged 10.4 points as a freshman, 11.3 as a sophomore and 16.3 as a junior, shot .445 from the field and .722 at the line for his career. He is not the most athletic player in the world, but is adept at coming off screens and hitting stand-still jumpers.
Harris, who is said to have a high basketball IQ, earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as a senior and was a first-team pick as a junior.
Powell, a Toronto native, was first-team All-Pac 12 as a senior and was named the league’s most-improved player as a junior, when he averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. Powell, who has good length and can score inside or on midrange jumpers, played for Canada in the 2013 World University Games and, like Harris, is said to have a high basketball IQ.
- ESPN reported Minnesota power forward Kevin Love, who will be a free agent at the end of next season, would gladly sign a long-term deal if the Cavs traded for him, provided James signs with Cleveland as a free agent this summer.
- UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, who James raved about before the draft, was taken by Charlotte with the 24th pick and traded to the Heat.
- Cavs guard Kyrie Irving posted the following on his Twitter account Wednesday when Blatt was introduced as the 20th head coach in franchise history: “Welcome to Cleveland Coach Blatt, excited to get to work!!”
- Attendance for the Cavs’ draft party at Quicken Loans Arena was 11,201. The crowd greeted the selection of Wiggins with a rousing ovation.
- The Cavs have four players from the Toronto area: Wiggins, Powell, Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick last year, and Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 selection in 2011.
- Wiggins will meet with the local media today at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
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