Andrew Wiggins: the next human experience?!

  • Is Andrew Wiggins the best player to come along in recent years?

    Perhaps not yet. But he may end up there. It is all a question of how people perceive things.

    Test yourself:

    Do you see talent as something concrete and only in the present?

    Do you see talent as some kind of potential in the future?

    Is talent all about the stat sheet?

    Is talent more about some kind of perceived magic?

    I think this plays into fans more than anything else. It is hard to deny the potential in Wiggins. His raw athleticism goes beyond Michael Jordan at the same age. We all watch him skate around the court like a figure skater on ice. But we don’t receive artistic points from judges. The only points come from putting the ball in the hole, and it can go in as ugly and rough as possible, just as long as it goes in. But is it all about forcing a ball through a ring?

    Let’s get down to what this is all about… winning? Well… yes… no… partially…

    There is a factor that actually weighs heavier than winning.

    The key factor is entertainment! Winning is a subset of entertainment. Winning brings a big chunk of entertainment with it, but it doesn’t own entertainment. Wiggins has the potential to be one of the best entertainers of all times (in basketball). His spin move has already been stamped with his name, because no one has ever done it like that before. It’s art… it’s dance… it’s expression… and it’s the human experience elevated to a new high. That’s what Wiggins is. That’s what Wiggins potentially brings to the NBA. And with that high form of human experience comes ticket sales… t-shirt sales… everything sales…

    The NBA is business more than basketball. “The bottom dollar always comes out on top.” That’s a quote I’ll have to shove over to the quotes thread. Winning brings in dollars because more people will follow a winner. But winning remains a subset of entertainment. Players that don’t win still bring in crowds… especially if their game is at a higher form. LeBron brought in the crowds at Cleveland. They never brought home a championship… but the crowds were there.

    So when you examine the game like that… maybe it is a fair comparison… LeBron and Andrew? Can Andrew bring the gate that LeBron brings? The potential is definitely there… if Andrew develops his game so his toolbox matches his athleticism he could actually jump over LeBron.

    Wiggins is expected to do more than score a ton of points and fill a stat sheet. Wiggins is expected to entertain us. That’s what the hype is really about. There have been plenty of superstars that never won a National Championship in D1. It didn’t make them any less of a star. Fans watch and they want to see Wiggins pirouette from the sky and come to earth slammin’ and jammin’ a basketball. It just isn’t enough that he scores 16 a game (or whatever).

    Greats of the game… like Michael Jordan and Dr. J are not remembered for bringing their lunch bucket to games and hashing out stats. We idolize these players because they elevated the game. They elevated the human experience. Deep down (in most of us) we want to see the human experience advance. We follow basketball in hopes to see some new form enter the scene. A plain dunk is just a plain dunk… but what elevated Andrew Wiggins to the cover of SI was not his HS stats or a plain dunk… it was that dunk where he took the ball through his legs and seemed to defy gravity for just a while and his body gracefully flew by a goal and somehow the ball ended up slamming through the net. The vision remains in my head, and it always will… just like when Dr. J defied physics and drove out beneath the goal and somehow seemed to change direction in mid air and tossed the ball in like a peach in a basket. That’s what basketball has become. And without the potential of having more of those moments, the game would die because let’s face it, it is a game of redundancy. It’s a game held together not by the scores, but by the highlight reels.

    If Andrew one day fills his toolbox and becomes the next LeBron, we will all take claim to him. “He’s a Jayhawk,” will be uttered from every Jayhawk fan in the world. Paul Pierce has limited days left, and we are looking for a new Jayhawk to grab plenty of attention at the next level. Most likely that Jayhawk will be Andrew.

    Being a fan of potential is like owning a lottery ticket. It makes you feel good and you imagine the potential, but it is what it is and it’s worth nothing unless one day the numbers are called. We all know that, but we still buy the tickets. Andrew will earn his big fat check because he is selling lottery tickets now… I just hope we all collect the big prize someday!

  • An excellent question has come up recently on our site:

    Does Bill Self showcase top talent?

    Andrew is on that top shelf of talent… and if you agree with my post above, the biggest part of his talent is his ability to bring the human experience to a higher level. So if that is the case, perhaps if Bill Self wants to showcase Andrew Wiggins he has to do more than opening his offense to focus more on Andrew scoring. Obviously, all of us (and Bill Self) want to win games (and hopefully another National Championship). We want Andrew to play a larger role in our offense. So if including Andrew in on more offense isn’t enough, what more should Bill do to showcase Andrew?

    What I’m getting at is if Bill Self really wants to showcase Andrew Wiggins then he’ll talk with Andrew and let him know, if he gets the ball in the open court, ahead of the crowd, he has Bill Self’s blessings to do any kind of dunk he wants. And he should encourage Andrew to work on some kind of dunk that will set a new high in basketball… something that extends the human experience to new heights.

    Imagine his through the legs dunk performed in an actual game? Might it fail and we lose two points? Yes. Could it even cost us a game? Yes. But if he attempted it and clearly had the blessings of Coach Self doesn’t it exhibit that Bill Self supports showcasing Andrew’s gift?

    Imagine if it did work. Imagine if it did work and it happened during March Madness?

    Sports media is all about highlights… and that highlight would be engrained into every basketball fan from now to eternity, just like Dr. J’s beneath the goal, just like Jordan’s float stuff from the free throw line. It would be a highlight that would take over March Madness and be shown repeatedly forever… over and over… and over and over… trumping NC State’s last second win over Houston… Chalmers shot over Memphis…

    The human experience trumped would be captured again, and idolized through eternity. Andrew Wiggins would have his stamp on the game… and Bill Self helped orchestrate it from the sidelines.

    Do you think we would have any difficulties recruiting the next “great one” from high school?

  • @drgnslayr - Let me preface this by saying that I believe that Bill Self is far and away the best coach in college basketball today. Having said that, MY answer to the question " Does Bill Self showcase top talent? " is an emphatic NO!!

    Bill Self is too team oriented (that ain’t a bad thing!) to put the emphasis on one or two highly acclaimed players. Now the good news is, he gets the best out of his players and they win a heck of a lot of games.

    I haven’t and I won’t give up on Wiggins, but I honestly wouldn’t care if we ever landed a number one recruit again. Seems like we’ve done pretty well over the years with what we’ve had.

  • @nuleafjhawk - but what does Calipari do different? How does he maximize showcasing the top shelf?

    How is he going to do that this year with a starting 5 of potential lottery picks? How does he showcase them all?

    If Andrew puts up respectable stats this year and has several big time highlights isn’t that all we can expect and didn’t Self do what he could for him?

    I don’t think a coach can showcase a player as much as the player stepping up and creating his own showcase. I do see how a coach could get in the way… like punish Andrew if he does a showy dunk. I just don’t see Self doing that to him.

    Self has been disciplining Andrew for not hustling… in my books, that is something any quality coach would do to help motivate a player to step up.

    I think Self is doing it right. I think Andrew will lift his game when our offense gets glued together properly. If he doesn’t stand out eventually, that is his own doing. BMac was in the same boat. Many times he would just fade away in games. He would get the ball, and he’d just pass it down the chain. Andrew is showing some of those signs, too. He has to build more in his toolbox if he wants to be able to push it to the hole under any circumstance. Right now, if he pushes it without having the right moves he’ll just get his pocket picked.

    If he really wants to stand out more (beyond the highlight stuffs) he’ll have to hustle more and start winning offensive rebounds (and put backs), steal balls and win most of the 50/50 balls. That will get him instant attention now and lift the burden placed on him.

    But the big time highlight moves need to be there. There are many great players that hustle and fill stat sheets. They aren’t riding the cover of SI.

  • @drgnslayr - I don’t know what Calipari does different, although in my mind, I picture him as a flashy used car salesman - telling the recruits whatever they want to hear.

    You know, Wiggins is probably performing very close to how Coach Self thought he would at this point. I think the crazy expectations are from us, the fans. I know that I personally got caught up in the hype and was immediately disappointed when he didn’t score 50 in his first game. I know…

    To help bring things back in perspective, check this out:

    Mystery Player - freshman year: .566 FG, .765 FT , 3.2 AST, 1.7 STL, 1 BLK, 14.6 PTS

    Andrew Wiggins - freshman year: 493 FG%, . 632 FT, 1.6 AST, STL 1.3, .6 BLK, 14.3 PTS

    Note: Mystery Player had a couple of very good teammates and good support players, but he was without question the star of his team. He had about 4 more minutes per game than Andrew, but you can see that the stats are very similar and the Points per game is almost identical.

    I’m sure you’ve already figured out that Mystery Player is a dude named Danny Manning.

  • Picked up a few keywords here.

    Expectation: Hero worship

    Team: Kansas basketball

    Talent: Wiggins

    Potential: Can do, but not showing

    Show case: The NBA GM in the building or the game on national TV

    Highlight: Maximum exposure

    Human experience: Me!

    Sorry to be so negative, but I can’t help thinking about the meaning of this thread.

  • @Wishawk - man… I can see how we can take this all negative. But why should we? Why should we dampen what we love? Right now, Bill Self is Kansas basketball and we embrace him. I still believe he knows what he is doing and why he is recruiting some OAD players. Why don’t we just let this all play out? It is a long season that I guarantee will feel like it goes by way too fast! Let’s enjoy the ride… and wouldn’t it be a real scream if Andrew proves all the naysayers wrong! I have little doubt about him not matching the hype… just not sure it will happen at Kansas. The kid is a phenom.

    My bet is we see a very different team after Christmas break… and we start seeing Andrew come on stronger.

    @nuleafjhawk - that was awesome! I really haven’t been thinking Andrew has played that bad. I think a few games ago he was averaging 16 ppg. It only takes a couple of so-so games to throw the stats out of whack this early. But what if he was averaging 20 ppg? Would that appease the crowd? I seriously doubt it would appease the east coast sports media machine. Even if Andrew averaged 30… then they would compare him to that dude that keeps scoring 100+ points a game… ol’ whats-his-name.

    Andrew will never do enough to please some… because many of those critics have issues anyways. They probably hate any basketball west of Kentucky and find it a crime that Andrew chose Kansas.

    It’s like listening to Gundy the other night bark that Kansas doesn’t have 3-pt shooters. I guarantee we will improve that area soon. That is something we shall see come on after Christmas… when we focus more on offense.

    I think we can all agree about one thing; we don’t want to see Andrew hog the ball and force shots just to try and lift his stats. We have plenty of scorers on this team and we need production out of all of them.

    Jabari Parker will go ahead and build his stat kingdom. Big deal. We shall see who goes further in March. My money is squarely on Kansas… by a long shot! And by then, we will see Jabari as a prolific scorer… just as we see him now. But the attention will be on Andrew. His season stats will be lower than Jabari’s… one reason will be that Andrew is surrounded by more offensive weapons and counted on less for offense. But Andrew’s numbers will climb, and with his game climbing the fans will return to him. I hope we get another shot at Duke in March, because Embiid will turn Jabari into chump change on anything near the paint. Jabari has a great toolset, but he isn’t such a tremendous athlete… not tremendous enough to stand out at the next level. He’s near the top of his potential. Andrew is near the bottom.

    Kansas (and Bill Self) will once again prove that basketball is a team sport! I’m not ready for 100% confidence on another national title, but I’m already convinced we will go further than Duke. And if Embiid keeps rocketing like he has in the past couple of weeks… he may challenge all of these guys for NBA draft pick #1! Meanwhile, we will get to watch some awesome highlight plays and hopefully win another B12 title.

  • @nuleafjhawk Wiggins FG% is .561 not .493… thats his % of shots at rim. As people have mentioned before, with some more hustle, the steals and blocks can and will rise, the FT% I don’t think will in a season. Once the game slows down a little for him, if he shoots less midrange j’s (38.9%) and 3’s (33.3%) and his team moves better without the ball, I could see his FG% surpassing Danny’s freshman year, and his assists getting in the same ballpark.

    So while his stats are less across the board right now, your point is valid – Let’s see what Wiggins’ looks like end of season. His freshman year might just end up better than Danny’s statistically.

  • @drgnslayr and @nuleafjhawk I love what you are discussing here and agree with you on many of your points. What got me down was the idea of human experience: showcasing one man’s talent, but not effort. I agree there is a lot to be excited about Wiggins’ game and potential. But through the first 7 games, I see more highlight plays, but less hustle plays. Actually I expected a lot from him. I expected him to compete as least as hard as White, and drive as much as Mason. Is that sniffing at the competition or simply reserved and let others shine? He certainly got up there in the Duke game, but not so much in the other games, especially the last game against UTEP. I think “bring it to every game” is a mental attitude. It is a respect for the game and the opponents. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side. A true competitor gives his/her all all the time, not just when the spot light is on or against a “worthy” opponent. I’m a little disappointed in this regard. Hope he brings it to the game all the time.

  • Calipari’s team have traditionally featured one or two players despite all the highly ranked players he has signed. Last year it was Noel, the Unibrow before that, Cousins and Wall the previous year, and the same was true at Memphis and UMass.

    Coach Self’s teams on the other hand have always been team centered and the superstar was not the center of the team. This edition is not any different; while Wiggins, Embiid and Selden have been hyped up by the press, the true start of the team so far has been Perry Ellis. In any case, the KU offense does not run through any of these players individually but through all of them as a team. Wiggins will not ne the player through which all plays run through; at different times and against different opponents different players will get that call.

    As Wiggins feels more at easy with the team, his stats will improve as the season progresses, and by the end of the year, he and Perry Ellis will be the team leaders.

  • @drgnslayr - dang it man, i’m fired up now! I wish we were playing tonight! I wish I were playing tonight!!! Great post.

    Like I said a while back, we’re 6-1 and still not happy. It’s good to be a Jayhawk!!

    You’re right though, we’re gonna get there, in a big way. I’m ready for it!

  • @approxinfinity - thank you for keeping me honest. I posted that while I was doing several other things at work (sorry, boss)!

  • @nuleafjhawk aww man, I’m not the boss. I just liked your point and the fg% didn’t seem right. Thanks to everyone posting the collective secrets of their statistical sauce, I felt empowered to Sherlock it.

  • Awesome… we all feel better about Andrew and he didn’t do anything to make us feel different. We rationalized it from within, where our expectations are created.

    I’ve spent the last two nice days working in my monstrous backyard garden. Time to turn the dirt. I noticed my 70 yr old retired nurse neighbor watching me through her window. I’ve got a 6’ privacy fence. My head pops over it. At the time I was thinking about all of this Andrew business. Something clicked.

    Could it be that us Kansans put a high value on our privacy? I’ve lived in big cities and abroad and noticed how in many of these cultures the people sort of keep windows open and put themselves on display. If you walk by on the sidewalk and look in, they take it like a compliment that they caught your attention. It doesn’t work that way in Kansas. Great way to get shot!

    Maybe our Kansas ways bleed into our basketball. Maybe we are picky with the attention we receive outside of Kansas. When it is positive, we don’t seem to mind… but we definitely don’t like to be criticized. And if a player like Wiggins brings the world spotlight to Kansas, it better stay positive!

    Suddenly, every nut in the world is looking into our living room window. We are on display. And we expect outsiders to be respectful, kind and courteous. If they don’t follow our rules… well… “cha-chink” my double-barrel shotgun is ready to go!

    ; )

  • @nuleafjhawk I agree! I’m ready for Tuesday night games right now!

    I’m jumping into the chat room just to quench my thirst!

  • Rock Chalk Cocktail:

    2 oz of Wiggins, 2 oz of Embiid, 2 oz of Selden

    For color add 1 oz Black, 1 oz Greene, 1 oz White

    Stir gently.

    Serve over ice (in March)

  • Nuleaf, Great quiz on the mystery player. But…my recollection of Manning’s first year is that he was unquestionably the most talented player on the team, but I wouldn’t have said the star…Kellog and Thompson both had similar scoring averages (I think)? I remember Brown constantly pushing Danny to be “the man”…that wasn’t really his nature. But he sure assumed the position of “the man” his senior year…especially in the NCAA tournament!

  • @drgnslayr No, shaken, not stirred. 🙂

    We all have high hopes and plenty of love for our team and the players. Pour me a drink too. Cheers!

  • " Awesome… we all feel better about Andrew and he didn’t do anything to make us feel different. We rationalized it from within, where our expectations are created."

    @drgnslayr - that about nails it.

    I’m sure this will sound dopey, but it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m really …proud, I guess you would say, of the way that everyone’s ( the posters on here ) handled the two or three games that we’ve not played our best and the one loss.

    I haven’t looked at the “other” site for a long, long time, but I remember there was lots of bickering and name calling and questioning everyone’s manhood. I’m not excluded from that group either. I don’t miss that at all.

    As @drgnslayr so eloquently pointed out, we had some issues, we talked about them and now we’re better! If more things were handled that way, our society would be a lot better off. Society - heads up. Watch and learn from this site.

  • You don’t have to showcase a player - players showcase themselves with their talent.

    Look at what’s going on with Kentucky. They don’t need to go out of their way to showcase Julius Randle. He showcases himself by dominating on the block. Same with Parker at Duke. The showcase is that he can score from anywhere, block shots, rebound, etc.

    Wiggins needs to showcase himself by making plays. Playmaking is the showcase. It’s not just scoring. It’s about making the types of plays that lead to winning basketball.

    Think back to McLemore last year. Some of his best plays, the real highlights, were just him making a play that went beyond X’s and O’s and were just shotmaking, or playmaking.

    That’s what we need from Wiggins.

  • @justanotherfan - I agree with most of your post. Although I do think it’s easier for a low post player to impose their will through the course of a game with rebounding down low and help defense (blocks.) Offensively, though, they still require someone to feed the post. And Kentucky has done pretty well getting Randle the ball.

    With the small forward position, since Wiggins isn’t bringing the ball up the floor, to some extent he’s also at the mercy of distribution by the ball handlers. There’s always transition buckets and crashing the boards - which I think Wiggins has done well (although inconsistently.) Otherwise, set offense with screens and efforts to get him the ball in space must be designed/called for. When things break down, it’s been the guards driving the lane. I’d like to see Wiggins get the ball at the top of the key and see what he can do off the dribble at the end of a possession. Along those lines, my main complaint about Mason has been when he drives, he’s not looking to dish enough. He’s been rewarded so far by putting his head down and getting fouls called. But that’s fool’s gold. As teams adjust and less fouls are called, he can’t rely on those calls to keep coming. He needs to start looking for the pass when he’s driving.

  • @drgnslayr Winning trumps entertainment because winning defines entertainment. Entertainment is a subset of winning Magic, Jordan & Lebron would have never over reached the NBA if they all played on losing franchises. Success made them bigger than the NBA even if only for a short time period.

    Wiggins will be a winner first, entertainer second.

    Really enjoyed your post.

  • @Wishawk The funny thing is that NOBODY stirs a martini…that’s why they make martini shakers. It would be like ordering vodka straight up and saying hold the orange juice.

    Dumbest line of one of the best movie franchises.

  • “Winning trumps entertainment because winning defines entertainment.”

    @jhawk7782 - I think that was the way it used to be defined. I think because I put winning as a subset of entertainment my post has a shock value. I think the highlight today trumps everything. It is the tiny clip that draws in eyes, and cements memories, inspires recruits and helps build players into commercial Gods. When we think of Jordan, we first probably think of his image on Nike. That image was off one of his legendary slam dunks. When I think of Dr. J… I mentioned it above… it’s his under-goal toss. A big chunk of Andrew’s leap above the rest of college basketball’s great players was his through the legs dunk. There are truckloads of players that have won championships. Most have faded far out of the sunset. I did say winning was important and a part of it. I just don’t think it trumps entertainment.

    I’m old school and this “revelation” shocked me. My thought process put winning at the top. But I don’t call the shots. And when I analyze myself, I’m as guilty as the rest… I remember the entertaining plays more than anything else. Heck… I can’t name back NC winners for the last X years… but I can recall many awesome plays. LeBron was huge before landing in Miami and taking home the gold. Obviously, it helps to win championships; it verifies a lot, and rounds out the “total package.”

    I don’t know… that’s just the way I see it today. I remember back long ago in basketball, when about the only thing remembered were the champions. But I’m guilty of putting entertainment first… I remember watching Wilt (on TV) and only a few things stick… his finger roll with stretched out arm and all the gimmicks he tried to make a FT. I don’t remember his 2 championships. I remember the entertainment more than the championships. And I think the game today is becoming more about entertainment than about basketball. March Madness comes and half the programming is personal stories about the teams, coaches, players. That’s not how it used to be. It used to be a game… only. I criticize the changes only because I see it now taking over the game. I see the rules issue as a marketing scam because a big part of what brought the game to here is gone (my interpretation). And what will basketball be in another 10 years? 20 years? You think it will look like it does today? Eventually, you’ll have the ability to be your own director and watch the game from your choice of angles (or not and just let it play as produced). This already exists in some sports abroad… I know that because I worked on some of them. In 10 years or so, games will probably look more like video games because of the control we’ll have. I’m not saying I won’t enjoy some of that… but as the end product becomes more about things besides the actual game (like the technology)… it will put the entire game at risk. Risk of changing far away from what brought it to here. Heck… basketball has had many changes anyways over the past 20 or so years.

    Maybe I’m just proving I’m an old codger who fears change!

    Basketball is art and so is life, and will be painted into a different portrait in the future by different artists.

    BTW: IowaJayhawk was right… and I should have built ESPN into that post!

  • My son and I were at the last border war game, down 19, even took off my new ku socks at half time- THAT was entertainment!

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