INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – The number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft is not trying to keep the expectations low. Instead, Andrew Wiggins is setting his bar very high.
That certainly makes his general manager David Griffin and head coach David Blatt smile.
“I want to be on the All-Defensive Team, be Rookie of the Year, make the All-Star team – all that sort of stuff,” Wiggins said at his introductory press conference on Friday at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
“I’ve got a lot of expectations, just for myself. I want to create an impact right off the bat – offensively and defensively. (I want to) bring the team to a next level, just be a good teammate, be a good part of the organization.”
Hearing a rookie aspire to be named Rookie of the Year is certainly nothing new. Wanting to become an eventual All-Star isn’t either.
But a rookie leading with an all-defensive team goal? Now, that’s something.
“It all started when I was young,” Wiggins said. “My father always emphasized that fact.
“Everyone knows defense wins games. I just really took it personally. I try to set goals every game about the person I’m guarding. I just try to lock them up. I don’t like when my man scores – even when I’m on the bench and he scores, that makes me mad. It’s always been a big priority of mine.”
His new head coach, David Blatt, loves hearing Wiggins emphasize the defensive end of the floor. He couldn’t help but grin while hearing Wiggins discuss it.
“One of Andrew’s greatest qualities is he can play both ends of the court,” Blatt said. “There are always minutes for a guy that does that.
“Any team, and any great player has to have four things. It starts with character… The second thing is quality… The third thing is coaching, which is my responsibility to put him in the situation, put him in the position on the floor where he can be successful. He’ll help me by holding down his end at the other side, so that keeps him out there. Finally, it’s continuity. We didn’t bring Andrew in here for a year. This isn’t a one and done. This is a career player. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him.”
While many feel Wiggins has a high ceiling, and his athleticism is undeniable, his game is still believed to be raw and developing in some areas. Despite not being a finished product, the 6-8, 200-pound 19-year-old has full faith in the type of player he is – and can eventually become.
“I can shoot it. I can take someone off the dribble. But right now my best thing is transition offense – running the floor,” Wiggins said.
“I’ve always been confident in myself. Even when I was young, and I didn’t even play that much on the team I was on, I always thought I was better than the other players. So, [I’ve been] confident my whole life.”
The number one selection out of Kansas is not unfamiliar with his new team. His Canadian roots have given him a strong connection with a couple of current Cavaliers.
That should only help his transition to the next level.
“I know a couple of players on this team,” Wiggins said. “Anthony Bennett and Tristan (Thompson), I know them closely. I know Tristan from the AAU circuit. We’re all from the same area. I knew Anthony Bennett from the AAU circuit and on the national level. I’ve known him from years. I think the chemistry is already there with those guys. I know I’ll get along with everyone else.”
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