A Kansas twist on Andrew Wiggins versus Joel Embiid

This is a special piece to Section 215, in which Fansided Sports director and KC Kingdom administrator Joel Wagler, after a full season of covering both Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, breaks down which prospect he would rather have on his team going forward. 

Andrew Wiggins versus Joel Embiid.

Deciding which youngster to select in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft is going to be very difficult, and there will be teams who choose wrong. The Philadelphia 76ers have the third overall choice in the draft, and they can not afford to miss with this pick.

It is a bit of a guessing game as to who the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks will take ahead of the 76ers. There is a chance both Wiggins and Embiid could be off the board.

Maybe the Cavaliers and the Bucks like Julius Randle or Jabari Parker more than the duo from Kansas. Maybe Philadelphia will get the chance to choose which Jayhawk they want going forward. Doubtful, but not impossible.

As life long fan of the Kansas Jayhawks, a KU graduate, and a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, I never miss a Jayhawks basketball game.

If I were the General Manager of an NBA team, I would have a hard time choosing between Wiggins and Embiid. I would have loved to see them play in Allen Fieldhouse another year, but that is not the world we live in any longer.

In all honesty, neither are completely ready for the long grind of an NBA season. Both need to increase their strength in a big way. Both need a lot of work on their fundamentals. Both need to work on performing well on a consistent basis.

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  • Wiggins is a tremendous athlete. He can elevate as quickly as any player I have ever watched. His second jump on rebounds is almost unbelievable. He has a very quick first step and can get to the rim with ease, but he has not learned how to finish at the basket.

    His lack of physical strength causes him to get bumped off course in the lane quite often. He makes up for this by being a good free throw shooter, but in the NBA, strength is a must.

    Wiggins’ outside shot looks good, and he has a terrific pull up jumper. His intermediate range game is far ahead of most collegiate players I have seen play. He is a better defender than some might think as well.

    He tends to play without a lot of obvious emotion. He isn’t aggressive with the basketball as often as he should be. This latter issue should improve with maturity and experience.

    Embiid has two big hindrances to his game. One is a lack of overall experience. He has only been playing the game for three years now. The second issue is his heath. Is he really fragile, or will strength and conditioning resolve this issue?

    He makes up for his lack of experience by working hard on his game, and studying film. His game, especially his footwork, does resemble that of Hakeem Olajuwon. It is obvious he has seen some footage of Olajuwon play.

    While at Kansas, he studied film of former Jayhawk Jeff Withey, so he could learn how to block shots more efficiently. He improved this aspect of his game immensely while in college.

    Embiid also plays with an enthusiasm and emotion that Wiggins lacks. There is little doubt he loves what he is doing, and he can fire up his teammates on the floor. This is less important on the pro level than it was in college, though.

    So, if it came down to it, and I had to make a decision on who I would select between these two, who would it be?

    I love Joel Embiid’s game, and his willingness to get better. He will get stronger and more polished as he gets older and gains  more experience. The thing that scares me the most, though, is his health.

    Does anyone want to be the guy who passed on Michael Jordan for the 7-foot Sam Bowie? Or the guy who took Greg Oden over Kevin Durant? Both big guys looked hard to pass up on paper, but they were quickly derailed by injures.

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    It should be noted that not only was Bowie taken ahead of Jordan, but so was Olajuwon. That worked out pretty well for the Houston Rockets.

    I would take Andrew Wiggins over a big man with some history of injuries. How will Embiid’s back hold up under the length and physicality of an NBA season?

    It is best here to take the freakish athlete in Wiggins, even though Embiid is formidable athlete himself.

    I would take Andrew Wiggins over a big man with some history of injuries.

    If the Sixers are fortunate to have Wiggins fall into their lap, fans shouldn’t expect LeBron James right out of the gate. Wiggins has to get bigger and stronger, and learn how to be physical enough to finish at the rim. He has a lot of work to do before he is an All-Star.

    If Embiid is there at the third pick, and Wiggins is gone, that will be a pretty good consolation prize for the Sixers. Embiid’s potential as a game controlling big man is incredible. If his body can hold up, he could be a big star in this league.

    The Philadelphia 76ers are in a great spot to select a franchise changing player. Regardless of who is available with the third pick, the Sixers are going to get an exciting player.