- Chad Ford, Senior Writer, NBA Insider
However, he's not the best amateur basketball player in the United States.
That honor goes to Canadian Andrew Wiggins, who announced Tuesday he will play college ball at Kansas this fall.
I spent Monday talking to a number of NBA general managers and scouts about Wiggins' NBA potential. Here's the lowdown:
Q: Would Wiggins really be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft?
Every GM and scout in the league with whom I've spoken believes Wiggins would be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft if he were eligible. Every one.
"Noel is a really good NBA prospect. He's just not a franchise-changing player," said one GM whose team will be in the draft lottery. "[However,] Wiggins is one of the three or four best prospects in the last decade. He has the ability to completely turn around a franchise. All 30 teams would take him with the No. 1 pick if they could."
Q: Well, sure, he'd be No. 1 in this draft. The 2013 NBA draft is one of the weakest in memory, right?
"No," the same GM said. "In every draft since 2007. [Greg] Oden would've went ahead of him. If Kevin Durant couldn't beat him out, no one could. But Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis? Wiggins goes ahead of all of them. I'm not saying he'll be better than all of them. I'm just saying knowing what we know about them when they were in the draft and knowing what we know about Wiggins, he'd beat out all of those guys."
Q: Is any player really worth that much hype? What makes Wiggins so special?
Our own Myron Medcalf did a nice job Monday of breaking down why Wiggins is worth the wait.
"[Wiggins is] a lethal combination of crazy athleticism and skill," one NBA scout said. "There just aren't a lot of holes in his game right now. Whenever he's on the court, even the untrained eye can pick him out immediately and say, 'That guy is special.' Maybe not LeBron James special. But close to that."
Q: Typically, NBA teams salivate over centers and point guards. Isn't Wiggins a wing?
True, but have you seen the state of NBA wings lately?
Said another NBA GM: "There are so few extraordinary wings in the NBA right now. Kobe [Bryant] is getting old. Dwyane Wade is getting old. You've got LeBron James. You got James Harden. Paul George is starting to work his way up there. Who else is really elite? This kid can be in that group. He's that good -- LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade good -- and so many teams need someone like him."
Q: Can you give me a good NBA comp for Wiggins? Who does his game most resemble?
Scouts hate this question. So do I, but I think I have a good idea. While we hear a lot of Kobe and LeBron comparisons, I don't think either is right. He doesn't have the body and floor vision of LeBron. And while Wiggins' skill set is similar to Kobe's, he doesn't have Kobe's killer instinct.
I've been saying this all year, but to me Wiggins is the next Tracy McGrady -- a huge 6-foot-8 2-guard who can do everything and do it almost effortlessly. Size, length, elite athleticism, scoring inside and out, ballhandling -- Wiggins has all of that. And like McGrady, he can occasionally coast through games.
Q: Will Wiggins be the No. 1 pick in 2014?
He is No. 1 on my 2014 Top 100, and it should stay that way.
Wiggins' decision to play at Kansas should help him in his quest to be 2014's No. 1 pick. Bill Self is a terrific coach who has had a lot of success prepping players for the NBA. With incoming freshman big man Joel Embiid and swingman Wayne Selden, along with sophomores Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, the Jayhawks should be a dangerous team. If Wiggins can lead them deep into the NCAA tournament, his status as the top pick will be secured.
The competition is stiff. The 2014 class is loaded. Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Andrew Harrison all could give Wiggins a run for his money. But as good as they are, Wiggins is the best prospect we've seen in a number of years.
Chad Ford writes why Andrew Wiggins would be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.