Wearing a black-and-white-flowered tuxedo jacket and an ear-to-ear grin, Andrew Wiggins slipped on a Cavaliers hat and basked in the spotlight of being the No. 1 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft at Barclays Center.
"It's a dream come true,'' Wiggins said after shaking hands with commissioner Adam Silver. "It's just a crazy feeling right now. It doesn't even feel real.''
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The Cavaliers chose Wiggins, a physically gifted forward with a 44-inch vertical leap, over Jabari Parker. The Bucks took the more polished Parker No. 2 overall.
It marked the second straight year that the Cavaliers chose a freshman from Canada with the No. 1 pick. Last year's selection, Anthony Bennett, did not work out terribly well, which goes a long way toward explaining why the Cavaliers were back picking at the top of the show again this year.
Wiggins, the son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins, said Thursday that he believes he can "come in and make an impact off the bat.''
Labeled the LeBron James of Canada when he was in high school in Toronto, Wiggins averaged a freshman-record 17.1 points for Kansas. It may be a measure of his vast potential that some considered his only college season underwhelming.
Wiggins likely wouldn't have been the top pick if his former Kansas teammate, center Joel Embiid, hadn't suffered a stress fracture in his right foot last week. Before their doctors discovered the stress fracture, the Cavaliers were poised to make Embiid the top pick.
Instead, he went to the 76ers with the No. 3 overall pick. The Sixers, who also had the No. 10 selection, could afford to take a gamble on Embiid, a 7-foot, 250-pounder who when healthy has drawn comparisons with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Like Wiggins and Parker, Embiid turned pro after one college season.
Embiid was not at the draft because the injury prevented him from flying.
"He worked so hard,'' Wiggins said of his teammate. "He didn't let nothing get to him. He always stayed motivated. I'm just so proud. It's a proud moment for Kansas.''
Parker, a forward from Duke, was one of the few players in the history of the draft who did not want to be the top pick. The Chicago native had made it so clear that he preferred to play in nearby Milwaukee that some accused him of tanking his workout in Cleveland. Parker disputed this charge Wednesday, but Thursday night he clearly was thrilled to be a Buck.
"I'm just very optimistic,'' Parker said. "If it was 1, 2, put me at 60, just getting that opportunity, getting that chance of being in the NBA.''
The week started off with a bang when Carmelo Anthony told the Knicks on Monday night that he would become a free agent and James told the Heat the next day that he would do the same. This draft was considered one of the deepest in recent memory, and the moves by Anthony and James changed a lot of the draft needs of teams as they jockeyed to go after the two prize free agents.
It also was the first draft in which Silver was the master of ceremonies for the first round. He replaced David Stern as commissioner in the middle of last season.