A Brief History of Trading the No. 1 Pick
2014: Room for LeBron
The Cleveland Cavaliers were in a weird spot as they made their selection for what seemed like a runaway first overall pick in Andrew Wiggins. They had two other first-round picks on their roster in Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett as part of a string of good luck (partially squandered on the Bennett pick, but hey, they had the chance anyway).
The Cavaliers thought they were building the bones of a young team. They hired a promising new coach in David Blatt to least the organization.
Then LeBron James came calling. He announced he was coming home. And the Cavaliers completely changed overnight.
Suddenly the idea of a ball-dominant rookie who would need time to develop did not seem like such an attractive idea. And suddenly they had a major trade chip to make a move to turn themselves into a contender.
That is what they did in making this three-team trade for Kevin Love. They added a third all-star to James and Irving to lift themselves into championship contention. That is what James would have done anyway.
It is easy to forget now just how much teams angled themselves for the 2014 draft. The idea of Wiggins was something everyone was angling for — including the Magic at the time.
Wiggins, of course, struggled in the Timberwolves’ system and culture. He had big scoring numbers but he struggled to make the kind of impact anyone believed he could.
It took going to the Golden State Warriors and accepting his role alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for Andrew Wiggins to become who he was meant to be. He was a solid defender and rebounder in addition to a good supporting scorer.
Who knows what would have happened for him if he arrived in a better culture sooner. Instead, his early career was defined more by being a pawn to help the Cavaliers reach title contention.