Wiggins Watch: Celtics gain very early pole position in race for top pick
Before we dive into it, let me explain something. I know what day it is..it's November 4th. And I know that the Celtics have only played three games. I also know that the current standings are meaningless and that at some point this rag tag group of Celtics players will win a few games.
With all that said, it's time for what will become a Monday tradition here at CelticsLife - Wiggins Watch.
The NBA draft lottery is about six and a half months away, but with several potentially franchise altering stars available in the 2014 draft, it's never too early to take a look at how the race for the worst record is developing.
"I would say just being able to enjoy my last year of school," Wiggins said.
The 6-foot-8 wing is widely considered a lock to be the top pick in the 2014 draft if he declares.
He was asked his goals for this season.
"Win another championship, a national championship," he said. "Follow in Anthony Bennett's footsteps of going No. 1."
The past four No. 1 picks (Bennett, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and John Wall) played only one year in college. Blake Griffin, the top pick in 2009, played two years, and Derrick Rose (2008) was one-and-done at Memphis.
So No. 1 is the plan, Wiggins was asked.
"Yeah, if that's possible if I can, yeah," he said.
So the prize is waiting. Whether it be Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker or Marcus Smart - there are legitimate franchise type players waiting for those teams that get a little ping pong luck next May. But before the lottery itself, we have an entire season of teams jockeying for position..so without further adieu..here's the first installment of Wiggins Watch.
The current top 4 (will normally do top three, but with four winless teams..why not go four this week?):
1. Celtics, 0-3
2. Wizards, 0-3
3. Jazz, 0-3
4. Nuggets, 0-2
Among the four teams currently winless, we have two teams who are expected to be bad this season (the Jazz and Celtics) and two teams that are not supposed to be in the running for the top pick (the Wizards and Nuggets).
For the Celtics, the problems are offensively, where they average only 87.3 PPG (28th in the NBA), and in closing out games, as the team has blown fourth quarter leads in all three games this season. Boston is a weird cornucopia of talent — mostly shooting guards and power forwards — that have a brutal November/early December schedule ahead of them without Rajon Rondo.
Of course, these four teams have the (very) early pole position, but there are many more teams that were considered big time favorites to be in the running for the #1 pick before the season started. They include:
The 76ers - Philly is 3-0, with wins over the Heat, Wizards and Bulls. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams is lighting it up for the Sixers, and while there is plenty of time for them to crash back to Earth, it's possible their young, athletic roster was slightly underrated by the media.
The Suns - Another team expected to be terrible, Phoenix is off to a 2-1 start led by Eric Bledsoe (22 PPG, 8.7 APG). The Suns only loss was at OKC, in a game that they were in until late in the 4th quarter.
The Magic - One year after Dwight Howard left the Magic, Orlando is already starting to show the fruits a total rebuild can bring with their 2-2 start. Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo were all brought to Orlando either via the Howard or Redick trades, or because of Orlando's terrible record last season (Oladipo was selected 2nd overall in this past draft). Harris isn't healthy at the moment, but when he returns, Orlando may very well be a little better than we thought. Not good enough to make the playoffs, but perhaps good enough to stay out of the top 5 in next year's draft.
The Bobcats - Charlotte is 1-2, and is currently getting outscored by 9.3 PPG (tied with the Wizards for worst in the NBA). While the Bobcats already have a win, this is a terrible basketball team (again), and will be right towards the top of these rankings all year long. After all, if there is one thing MJ (the owner) knows how to do - it's lose basketball games.
In my opinion, the five worst teams in basketball, in some order, are: Charlotte, Boston, Utah, Philly and Phoenix. Yes, I know the Sixers are 3-0, but I don't care. At some point their young, thin team will come crashing back down to Earth. Same story in Phoenix. If any one of the "expected to be awful" teams is going to have some sustained level of success..I like Orlando. They are deep, and Oladipo and Vucevic look like possible stars.
Again, it's super early. And there are still plenty of things to look forward to on the court over the next 79 games. Rondo's return, the (expected) growth of Bradley, Olynyk and Sullinger as players, and the emergence of Vitor as the greatest thing ever. But there's also a realistic way to view this season - and that's as year 1 of the rebuild. And part of that rebuild is keeping an eye on this team's position in the best draft we've seen since 2003. Wiggins Watch is underway.