As usual, the hottest topic in the NBA right now involves LeBron James. This time it has to do with who he will be playing with as he makes his return to Cleveland. We already know Mike Miller and James Jones are coming over from Miami to play with LeBron, and now there is also chatter of Ray Allen heading to Cleveland as well. While those additions are certainly noteworthy, they all pale in comparison to the possibility of the Cavaliers landing Kevin Love via trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not only does the possibility of Kevin Love playing with LeBron James have people buzzing, but so does the possibility of the Cavaliers giving up Andrew Wiggins, the number one overall pick in this year's draft, to get him.
While most who follow the NBA believe that giving up Andrew Wiggins to get Kevin Love is a good move for the Cavaliers, I disagree. I think it would be better for the Cavaliers to hang on to Andrew Wiggins and let him develop into the next superstar of the franchise under the tutelage of LeBron James. There are three key reasons for why I hold this position.
The first reason why I hold the position that I do is that Andrew Wiggins has a higher ceiling than Kevin Love. While it is true that Kevin Love is a double-double machine, averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season, I don't see Kevin Love being anything more than he is. I don't mean to say that he won't get better over time or that he is done improving, but we all know what Kevin Love is. He is a double-double machine who plays zero defense and knocks down threes. That's not nothing, but is he really worth acquiring at the expense of a young kid in Wiggins who has the potential to be a superstar on both ends of the floor?
Kevin Love is without question the best power forward in the NBA, but he is no Karl Malone or Tim Duncan. The reason why is that both of those guys played defense in their prime and Kevin Love does not. Love's defensive deficiencies are problematic and ultimately hold him back from being a legitimate centerpiece of a championship team.
Wiggins may have question marks surrounding his offensive abilities, but the defense we can see is already there. I have no doubt that Andrew Wiggins will be able to defend right away in the NBA and make an instant impact on the defensive side of the ball. If you give him a polished offensive game with his motor and athleticism, you have a legitimate superstar who blows Kevin Love out of the water.
If I had Andrew Wiggins on my team, I would roll the dice and bet that he'll develop an offensive game. His upside as a fantastic two-way player is too much to give up for a guy who only plays well on the offensive side of the ball. If Kevin Love was a really good defender, this would be a good trade for the Cavaliers. Of course, if Love was a really good defender, the Timberwolves would already have a couple of playoff appearances with Kevin Love by now, and he'd be staying in the Twin Cities.
The second reason why the Cavaliers shouldn't give up Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love is that it doesn't guarantee a championship. I understand that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love is a great trio that easily contends in the Eastern Conference, but does that lineup automatically equal a championship? I don't think it does. Especially since the Cavaliers likely throw in Anthony Bennett and Dion Waiters in addition to Andrew Wiggins to get Kevin Love. The price to get Love might be too steep for Cleveland, and they probably are better off going forward with the assets that they have.
This leads right into the third reason for why I don't think the Cavaliers should give up Andrew Wiggins to get Kevin Love, which is that the Cavaliers can already contend as presently constituted. With the team that they have right now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. They don't need to add Kevin Love to become contenders, and as I said previously, they may actually be giving up too much to get Kevin Love. I.e. Subtraction by addition.
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James at the moment is the best 1-2 punch in the Eastern Conference. In addition, Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett make for a very nice supporting cast around those two superstars which I think is good enough to get Cleveland to the NBA Finals right away. They may not defeat whoever comes out of the west, but they have what it takes to get to the NBA Finals which by default makes them a contender.
The counter argument to my position is that adding Kevin Love makes them better right away, Andrew Wiggins isn't a sure thing, and giving up Wiggins for Love is what LeBron James wants. My biggest issue with adding Kevin Love and giving up Andrew Wiggins is that it makes them weaker defensively. I personally like what they have at the moment with Andrew Wiggins and LeBron James instantly forming one of the best perimeter defensive fronts in all of basketball better than what they get with Kevin Love putting in 25 points while collecting 12 rebounds every night. They already can score points with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, James Jones, and Mike Miller, and they can also get rebounds with Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett. The presence of Andrew Wiggins as great defender gives them a much more rounded out and complete team.
To say that Kevin Love is a sure thing and Andrew Wiggins is a complete unknown and unproven player who might become a bust is really hyperbolic. It's true that we are yet to see Andrew Wiggins develop into a polished offensive weapon, but only an idiot would think that there are good odds he becomes a bust.
At worst, he becomes a very athletic perimeter defender without a jump shot which is still nice to have on your team. Trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love basically says that you don't have any faith in Andrew Wiggins and his tremendous upside, which to me sounds incredibly foolish. The bottom line is that the Cavaliers are getting a terrific athlete in Wiggins who can come in and contribute instantly as a defender. He just needs the time to become a more consistent offensive threat, which I think with time he will become.
As for the part about doing what LeBron James wants, this too isn't a good reason to make this trade. LeBron James sounds committed to staying in Cleveland for the rest of his career and he needs to focus solely on winning a title with what he has rather than begging for more help. Plus, great players don't always make the best front office decisions. The job of a player is focus on the next season, but the job of a general manager and an owner is to focus on the next five seasons and beyond.
The Cavaliers have a tremendous player in Andrew Wiggins who guarantees them great basketball for the coming decade. Trading him for Love to make LeBron James happy would be a huge mistake by the front office because even though they want to keep LeBron James happy, their primary job is to do what's best for the franchise in the long term as well as the short term. I see short term and long term benefits of keeping Wiggins so in my opinion it's a win-win deal for LeBron and the Cavaliers to keep Wiggins.
In conclusion, I simply don't think the Cavaliers should trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. His talent and upside in addition to the other players that they would have to trade is too much for them to give up. If the Cavaliers are at all concerned about the state of their franchise for more than just a couple seasons, they'll keep Andrew Wiggins. The potential payout of hanging on to him is much bigger than the payout of trading him for Kevin Love. If they want to not only win a championship within the next 5 seasons but also be a force in the east for ten seasons and beyond, they'll keep Andrew Wiggins and let him develop into a superstar under the instruction of this generation's greatest player.
---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord