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LeBron decision could have big impact on Wiggins' role

POSTED: Jul 12, 2014 2:53 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper,


Expectations for top pick Andrew Wiggins may have to be altered after the Cavs added LeBron.

— The LeBron James decision has implications beyond the obvious of what his return to Cleveland means to the city and its Cavaliers, how it re-shapes the Eastern Conference pending the next big free-agent call by Carmelo Anthony, and how the Rockets respond to having an opening to get Chris Bosh only to end up disappointed.

It also has Ladder implications.

The chance to learn from the best player in the world is a unique opportunity, and especially when that player is a willing passer with underrated court vision, but there is no question Andrew Wiggins just had his role reduced in Cleveland. James is very good for the Cavaliers, but bad for a Rookie of the Year campaign when Kyrie Irving would have already been gobbling up time with the ball.

While there is no immediate hit, with James planning to be in Brazil on Sunday for the World Cup final and Wiggins all of one game into Summer League, the LBJ effect on the No. 1 pick just became a storyline to watch for 2014-15. It can obviously be a positive impact of James drawing defenders away, and playing for winning teams is usually worth bonus points from the media voters, but it can also be the negative of Wiggins' regular-season numbers going down between the time he was drafted to opening night.

"I think my game style matches," Wiggins said. "I can play with anybody. I don't think I have to change my game for anybody. I'm an unselfish player."

They will be a good fit in that way, no question.

Another top rookie, Milwaukee's Jabari Parker, was asked if he was envious and said, "No. I've got a great coach. I've got J-Kidd on my side, a Hall of Famer. So it's about the same," and credit to Parker for keeping a straight face the whole time and sounding as if it actually was the same. So maybe we also need to track the J-Kidd effect on the Ladder.

For now, updated rankings will have to do.

1. JABARI PARKER, Bucks (previous ranking: 1)

Parker was not great in the opener-slash-showdown of top picks on Friday, a 70-68 Cleveland win over Milwaukee, but showed a lot of the complete game that makes him the most NBA-ready of the Class of 2014 while finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes.

2. NERLENS NOEL, 76ers (2)

Noel moved well while playing three of the five games in Orlando and sitting out the other two, the Sixers said, to rest, an encouraging start to the next phase of his comeback from knee surgery. Philly next comes to Las Vegas.

3. JULIUS RANDLE, Lakers (3)

He remained unsigned Friday and did not play, as expected, as the Lakers tried to finish the majority of their free-agent business before committing cap space to Randle's contract. If that continues and others are producing, there's probably a hit in the rankings, through no fault of his own.

4. JARNELL STOKES, Grizzlies (4)

The second-round pick, No. 35 overall, finished Orlando averaging nine rebounds a game in 26 minutes, without ever playing more than 30 minutes. Though struggling with his shot at times, Stokes still scored 10, 16, 11 and 12 points in the limited time.

5. JAMES ENNIS, Heat (5)

Small forward Ennis had already made a strong case to go from former longshot -- No. 50 in 2013 and playing in Australia and Puerto Rico last season -- all the way to the Heat roster, no matter what James decided. Miami is pushing hard to add a replacement starter at the position, but Ennis could push as hard to make the rotation.

6. JORDAN ADAMS, Grizzlies (6)

Adams left Orlando on a bad note, by making just five of 13 shots and scoring 11 points against the 76ers, but that was after scoring at least 19 points in three of the four previous games.

7. DOUG McDERMOTT, Bulls (7)

Dougie McBuckets is in a very good spot for a ROY campaign: A major-market team that will get a lot of attention and could pile up wins in a boost to his candidacy, but that also may only have one other scoring threat, Derrick Rose with health concerns.

8. ANDREW WIGGINS, Cavaliers (8)

The No. 1 pick struggled with his shot in the opener, making one of eight 3-pointers, seven of 18 overall and three of six on free throws. His elite athleticism should allow Wiggins to get into the lane and draw fouls.

9. K.J. McDANIELS 76ers (9)

The sprained ankle that forced McDaniels the chance to play in the Orlando title game on Friday and most of the previous contest could not dampen an encouraging early showing by the second-round pick. The health update comes when the 76ers open Las Vegas play tonight.

10. DANTE EXUM, Jazz (10)

Exum heads into his debut tonight with a lot of hype and a game that can captivate, a valuable head start for the kind of attention it takes to win Rookie of the Year. Like Wiggins, he will not be handed opportunities on offense while playing with Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke and Derrick Favors.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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