And Then There Was 1
Andrew Wiggins put on a show Saturday in a losing effort against West Virginia that could end up defining his college career, unless he is able to carry an undermanned Kansas team deep into the tournament. The super freshman displayed why he could be a top-10 fantasy player in short order, pouring in 41 points on 12-of-18 from the field and 15-of-19 from the line, with eight rebounds, two assists, four blocks, five steals and two three-pointers in 39 minutes.
It's been a season of hype, unrealistic expectations, disappointment, hand-wringing, and for those who have been paying attention, moments of brilliance. I've been driving the Wiggins bandwagon on Twitter since the start of the season, even as Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid emerged at points as the flavor of the week. More and more college basketball writers and analysts have undersold Wiggins' potential at the next level, expressing disappointment with his freshman campaign. Saturday's performance, even though his team lost, had to leave Wiggins wanting to lob the bird at his detractors. At least, that's what it made me want to do. He probably couldn't care less what talking heads say about him, but I can't help but get sucked into the debate.
Physically, he was meant to play basketball at an insane level. I've never seen someone with his bounce around the rim. He can jump for an offensive rebound, come down, and be airborne again for the putback while everyone else is still rooted to the ground. His jumper needs refinement, but when it's on, it's smooth and easy, flashing the potential to be a real strength. In transition, Wiggins is the college version of the Miami Heat - devastating. His defense would be above average right now in the pros, and once he adds a little more size to his 200-pound frame, he profiles as someone who could earn First Team All-Defensive honors. Few players coming out of college as a freshman profile as someone who could take over a game on both sides of the ball in the NBA. That's what Wiggins can do. This is what a No. 1 overall pick looks like. People can argue that he isn't as aggressive as Kevin Durant was when he was in college. It's true. But I don't see how that's relevant to projecting Wiggins. He isn't supposed to be Kevin Durant. For me, he profiles as a Scottie Pippen type. Someone whose physical gifts will allow him to be a dominant defensive wing. A player who can be the best offensive player on the floor when necessary, but someone who can adapt to any offensive system, and doesn't necessarily need the ball to go through him on every play.
Any coach would love to have him. Any fanbase would be lucky to get to watch him grow as a pro. And with increasingly worrisome news about Joel Embiid's back surfacing, it seems like a good showing in the NCAA tournament could ensure that Andrew Wiggins is the first name Adam Silver calls on draft day.
Each week, this article highlights players who are widely available in standard leagues that can help in specific roto categories. Remember, while each player highlighted can help in a specific category, there's no guarantee for production in other areas.
Kelly Olynyk, C, Celtics
There's some risk here, as Olynyk played just 17 minutes in Friday's game. But in his previous two games, he averaged 27.5 minutes with 20 points, 6.5 rebounds and two three-pointers per game. Even in Friday's game, he was still able to accumulate a quick 13 points, despite the limited run. Down the stretch, it wouldn't be surprising if the Celtics start giving him more consistent run to try to see what they have in the young center. He is available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues and almost all ESPN leagues. Matt Barnes is another option here.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Blazers
It's been a long, strange trip for Robinson to finally reach a level of relevance expected from a top-five pick. But it seems he has finally found a home as Portland's first big man off the bench. He had 11 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes Friday, which was his first game back after missing four games with a knee injury. He had an 18-rebound game on Feb. 23, prior to the injury, and while that's a misleading performance, considering LaMarcus Aldridge was out, it does demonstrate Robinson's aptitude on the glass. He won't see starter's minutes, but if you're just looking for someone to offer production in deeper leagues here, he's not a bad option. He is available in 99 percent of leagues. Reggie Evans and Jeff Adrien are also options for cheap rebounds.
Kendall Marshall, PG, Lakers
Next week I'll probably profile Jordan Farmar again here, and then I'll follow that up by hyping Marshall again. The Lakers' point guards seem to have this spot on permanent lockdown, as there have been so many moving pieces throughout the season. The fact that Marshall is owned in just 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and is actually getting dropped to below 70 percent ownership in ESPN leagues while he's averaging 10.4 assists per game over his last five, is a bit surprising. Granted, over that stretch he's averaging only 4.4 points in just 23.4 minutes per game, so there's plenty of room for pessimism, but assists are nearly impossible to find on the waiver wire, and Marshall provides them in spades.
Draymond Green, SF, Warriors
Green has always been one of my favorite players dating back to his college days, but he typically doesn't offer much fantasy value. He's good at some stuff (defense, leadership, hustle plays), but he has the potential to do more harm than good from an offensive perspective, shooting 38.4 percent from the field, 30.3 percent from beyond the arc and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line, while offering only 1.7 assists per game this season. However, over a short stretch, he's more than capable of being an asset in deeper leagues. He's averaging 2.2 steals per game over his last five, and is widely available. Tony Wroten and Shaun Livingston also offer potential for bulk steals.
Wesley Johnson, SF, Lakers
This is the second time I've profiled Johnson in this space, as a guy who qualifies at three positions in some leagues, he can provide excellent block totals from the shooting guard position and if slotted into the power forward position, he can provide above average three-point shooting and steal totals. He is averaging 1.1 blocks per game on the season and 1.4 blocks over his last five contests. The Lakers rotations are very fluid, so there's some risk here, but his versatility makes Johnson an enticing option in category leagues. He's available in 65-70 percent of leagues.
Terrence Ross, SF, Raptors
Ross had six three-pointers in just 26 minutes Friday, marking the fifth game this season where he has gone for five-plus treys, and the third time he has made six or more three-pointers in a game. He can make it rain in bunches, and is averaging two three-pointers per game on the season, while shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. He is available in 75 percent of leagues.