Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker? Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins?
The debate over who would be the number one pick waged on for months leading up the to 2014 NBA Draft, and the competition for Rookie of the Year was supposed to play out in its entirety this season.
That was cut short when Parker, who was selected second overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, suffered a season-ending torn left ACL injury this week. Top pick Wiggins was left stunned by what had transpired. He sent Parker a text to express his well wishes.
“I was shocked,” Wiggins, a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves via a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, told Basketball Insiders. “Injuries are the worst part of being an athlete.”
Parker had been making a strong case as leading rookie at the time of his injury. Among first-year players, he ranked second in scoring (12.3 points), third in rebounds (5.5 boards) and third in minutes per game (29.5). More significantly, he was a key component in the Bucks 13-12 record.
“I think he was playing great,” said Wiggins. “He was really effective, always assertive on the court, helped his team big time.”
The 2014 draft class was one of the most hyped in years. This season, however, it has been known for its increasing number of injuries among lottery picks. Third pick Joel Embiid, who had been considered a top selection candidate, underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot prior to the draft and has yet to play. Fourth pick Aaron Gordon fractured his left foot in November. Sixth pick Marcus Smart missed 12 games between a left ankle sprain and left Achilles strain. Seventh pick Julius Randle broke his right leg during his NBA debut and is out for the year. Ninth pick Noah Vonleh’s debut was delayed due to surgery for sports hernia. Eleventh pick Doug McDermott underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee this month, while 14th pick TJ Warren fractured his thumb earlier in the season.
Once healthy, there will be intense match ups to watch between the NBA’s newest wave of young talent. Wiggins and Parker faced off for the first time in late November prior to Parker’s injury. Wiggins posted 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists with six turnovers. Parker recorded 11 points, 7 rebounds in 3 assists in the Bucks 103-86 victory over the Timberwolves.
“He’s a great player,” said Wiggins. “(I like the) the competition.”
They were slated to meet again in January. Until then, Wiggins looks forward to the next time they play against each other.
“That’s something no one wants to go through,” said Wiggins. “But I hope he gets better soon and gets back and comes back even stronger than before.”
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