A couple hoops thoughts for Thursday.
Wiggins headed to Minnesota
Damn. It’s been pretty obvious, aside from the brief period when Cleveland kidded themselves that they could trade for Kevin Love without giving up Andrew Wiggins, that the #1 pick would be headed to Minneapolis some time before the season began. Still, it sucks for it to, apparently, be going down officially.
Cleveland with LeBron was the perfect spot for Wiggs. He could ease into the game, only having to become Scottie Pippen1 rather than live up to his Maple Jordan nickname. He could develop his offensive game slowly as his body matured and he learned the tricks of how to score in the NBA. He could focus on being a defensive stopper to relieve pressure on LBJ. And he would likely play deep into the playoffs from the first year of his career.
Now he’s off to a team that has done little right in over a decade, where he’ll be expected to carry a heavier offensive load from opening night. There are other young athletes on the roster, but no established stars who can serve as steadying influences. I hope the expectations/pressures and lack of room to grow slowly doesn’t set Wiggins’ career back.
The trade has been debated all over the place for the last month. You can make an argument that Cleveland would be better served keeping Wiggins. But championship clocks run out faster than anyone expects them to. It makes sense to roll the dice on winning titles now with the LBJ-Love-Irving trio now rather than waiting for Wiggins and Bennett to blossom and potentially win a bunch down the road. There are no guarantees any of those players remain healthy, develop as expected, or even maintain their current levels of play.
Either way, it still probably isn’t enough to make Cleveland a clear favorite for the NBA title next year. One of the favorites, yes. But Chicago, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City will still have a lot to say about it.
Greg Oden arrested
Double damn. Oden always seemed like a decent guy. He was blessed with a tiny window when he was an effective player, winning three Indiana state titles and leading Ohio State to the national title game before his body gave out. He’s become a punchline, along with Sam Bowie, for the reasons to never draft a big man with leg issues.2 Which I’ve always thought was unfair. Oden didn’t ask for his injuries to happen. His body simply disintegrated on him, unable to deal with the rigors of playing every-other-night for six months. He never whined or indulged in public self-pity.
It seems like he immediately took responsibility for his actions earlier today. Which does not excuse them, nor absolve him of the consequences that come with them. It’s just a shame this is another negative that people are going to remember about a guy that is already a symbol for professional underachievers.