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September 21, 2023

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Cleveland Cavaliers select over Jabari Parker with first overall pick

This past Thursday was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication for 60 of the world’s most gifted young basketball players. This year’s NBA draft class was deep with talent, which makes it that much harder deciding who to pick with the number one selection.

Cleveland had the honor of picking first again in the draft and the obvious top two choices were between Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins and Duke star Jabari Parker. The Cavs, who are trying to make a playoff run in the coming year, ultimately went with Wiggins.

There were two deciding factors in choosing Wiggins over Parker. First, Wiggins is more immediately NBA ready. Wiggins averaged 18 points during his yearlong college run and shot 50 percent inside the three point line. Cleveland, as of late, has not been an organization to think too far ahead into the future; Wiggins’ scoring will strongly benefit right out of the gates. Parker, who was selected second by Milwaukee, will most likely take a year to learn the NBA game and develop his already impressive package.

Even though Wiggins will likely make a difference sooner, Parker has the potential of being the better player in the long run. The Cavs scoring selection will also probably mean the release of Anthony Bennett, who was Cleveland’s number one overall selection in last year’s draft.

The second reason Wiggins was drafted ahead of Parker was defense. Parker was explosive at Duke. His footwork in the post is a work of art and he has the ability to break down defenders one on one in the backcourt, but his defense was lackluster at best against the top college players. Wiggins proved himself to be one of the top defenders on his team beside third overall selection and teammate Joel Embiid.

For Cleveland to be successful, they will need a player capable of defending the small forward position. With the release of starting forward Loul Deng imminent, Wiggins will now fill that role. He’s got the necessary length, speed and athleticism to keep up with the league’s elite. He may of course need to be taught to a certain degree, but he should catch on to the new style of defense well before All-Star break.

Now even though Wiggins himself may be an instant starter for Cleveland, what the pick actually means for the ball club is yet to be seen. The Cavs were hoping to lure LeBron back to his former city with the moves they’ve made so far but that scenario does not seem likely. That said, Wiggins will come to a team with a coach in David Blatt (who has never coached American players) and a star in Kyrie Irving whose leadership skills are under fire. All that combined with the team’s locker room troubles does not make Cleveland a place that appears to be able to nurture a strong rookie talent into stardom. With so much stacked against them, this Wiggins pick is a must work situation if they are to overcome the past few years of under-performing.

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