Can Sixers reach higher and pick Wiggins?

Andrew Wiggins likely won't last
Andrew Wiggins likely won't last (past the toptwo picks.    JAMIE SQUIRE / Getty)
Posted: June 27, 2014

NEW YORK - What will the 76ers do?

The team wants to draft Andrew Wiggins, and the Kansas swingman wants to become a Sixer. Both sides just won't say it publicly.

But unless the Sixers trade up, Wiggins is almost certain to be off the board Thursday night when the Sixers make the third overall pick at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

So does the 6-foot-8, 200-pounder get the sense that the Sixers will do whatever it takes to move up and get him?

"I know they like me," he said Wednesday at a news conference. "I had a good workout there. They think I would fit good with their system and how they play."

As of Wednesday, Wiggins was expected to go first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Duke's Jabari Parker was likely to be picked by Milwaukee at No. 2.

The Sixers might have to give their third and 10th picks, or some other package, to the Cavaliers to move up two spots. Something might be in the works, though.

A source confirmed that the Cavaliers offered to fly draft prospect Dante Exum on a private jet from New York to Cleveland on Wednesday for an interview and a possible workout. Exum, a point guard from Australia, is projected to go third to the Sixers in several mock drafts.

It's unlikely that Cleveland would draft him at No. 1. Exum would be an option if the Cavs trade down.

Wiggins could bring the legitimate-superstar quality to the Sixers that has been absent since Allen Iverson roamed the Wells Fargo Center.

"What separates Wiggins from others is elite athleticism," said a Western Conference executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He can play with his head above the rim. And the great wings have that.

"Paul George has some of that now. Tracy McGrady had some of that. Kobe Bryant had that. Dwyane Wade would get up there."

Blessed with a 7-foot wingspan, Wiggins, 19, reportedly has a 44-inch vertical leap. And he has a sprinter's ability to go from end line to end line practically in an instant.

"Andrew Wiggins glides," the executive said. "He's got this athletic superiority that you can go into the gym as much as you want but you are never going to be able to approximate that."

The Toronto native's athleticism was on display this past season at Kansas. Wiggins averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds. He was the Big 12 freshman of the year and a first-team all-conference selection.

But he was far from a finished product. Wiggins was a so-so outside shooter, his toughness was questioned, and he didn't always stand out.

"He's a team-first guy, but he definitely could be more aggressive in taking over certain situations," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But I will say this: The guy averaged about 19 points a game the last 10 games of the season. He got 41 at West Virginia - he can do that."

Self said Wiggins loved to see his teammates shine when things were going well for the Jayhawks.

The Western Conference executive said Wiggins' perceived lack of toughness would not affect him.

"There's two sides of a coin," the executive said. "One is he's only 19 years old. Give him some time. Detractors will say if he doesn't have it now, and he's playing against college players, he's never going to have it. . . .

"But I do know that he possesses something that other people will never get."

So, again, what will the Sixers do?


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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