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Aaron Wiggins, Favorite Draft Sleeper in 2021 NBA Draft

Junior with a lot of untapped potential.

Aaron Wiggins is a junior out of Maryland. Wiggins is also one of my favorite deep draft sleepers in this years draft. The first thing that draw me to Wiggins is his continual improvement over his 3 years in Maryland. As a freshmen he was 35% from 2 with 7.7 attempts per 100 possessions, as a junior he is 51% with 12.5 attempts per 100 possessions. His assist rate went from 6 as a freshman to 17 as a junior. And he has one of the best handles in the draft, just counters for days. He is a very good athlete, good size for a 2 guard with 6-5 and a solid wingspan of 6-9.5 . As a junior he posted a OBPM of 4.9 and a DBPM of 2.1. Here are players who were drafted in either the first of second round, who posted similar numbers:

Allen Crabbe was the 31st pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, spent 7 years in the league. CJ Wilcox was the 28th overall pick in the 2014 draft,  and only spent 3 years in the league, but has been trying to get back in the league via multiple G-League stints. Josh Richardson was the 40th pick in 2015, and is a quality two way guard in the league, starter on good teams.  Terance Mann was the 48th pick in the draft, and we all know how his career has been going. Kris Joseph was the 51st pick in 2012, barely played in the NBA, and after a few G-League stints fashioned himself a nice career overseas, mostly in France.

When we compare Wiggins to this group of players, a few things stand out. Wiggins is by far the worst at getting to the line. But in everything else he is nearer to the top. He is the best rebounder and passer, and his assist to turnover is positive.  Both in terms of volume and percentage one of the better floor spacers.

Defensive Metrics

Wiggins posted a DBPM of 2.1, DReb rate of 16.1, steal rate of 2.1 and block rate of 2. Drafted players with similar Metrics in their junior year:

Again a very encouraging list. Most of these guys have seen a second contract, and have all been drafted by a team. One thing that jumps out is that Wiggins is by far the best rebounder out of the class. When you pair that with his ability to handle the ball, you get quite the potent transition initiator. In everything else Wiggins is pretty similar to other prospects. He wont be Jimmy Butler on the defensive end, but he will most likely be a player who can guard most guards and wings, offer some weakside rim protection as well, be a decent danger in the passing lanes.

Will He Be Able To Space the Floor

Aaron Wiggins posted a free throw percentage of 78, free throw rate of 21, three point percentage of 36, on a volume of 9.5 attempts per 100 possessions, and his usage was a very good 25. Here are some similar drafted players in their junior years in college:

CJ Wilcox was a good floor spacer in this first 2 seasons on average volume, with 37 and 39 percent on 6 attempts per 100 possessions.  NBA champion Pat Connaughton is a career 35% from 3 with a volume of 7 attempts per 100 possessions.  Crabbe was a career 38.7% three point shooter on a high volume of 8.6 per 100 possessions. He also had 2 seasons with over 40% from 3. The worst spacer of the bunch, with a career 33.6 percent on a volume of 7.3 per 100 possessions.

Wiggins is average among this group of guys. If history is our teacher, he will probably be an above average 3 point shooter. His ceiling could be a Crabbe 38%+, but the realistic outcome seems somewhere between 35 and 36 percent on an ok volume of 6 to 7 per 100 possessions.

Creation for Others

Wiggins posted a assist percentage of 17, usage rate of 25 and assist to turnover ratio of 1.3. Former junior prospects who got drafted:

Most of these prospects were or are guys who can get you around 2 assists per game at their peak. The only exception is Brogdon, who had one season with 7 assists per game and one with 6. Comparing them with one another, Wiggins has probably have the best handle. While he does Brogdon’s vision, Wiggins’ combination of tools and handle in a NBA offense with enough spacing should help him trend towards 3+ assists per game IMO.

Self Creation

Wiggins posted an usage rate of 25, a very bad free throw rate of 21, decent offensive rebound percentage of 4.4, and 2 point percentage of 51. Drafted prospects with similar outputs in their junior years:

Another very encouraging list, especially for a player who isn’t even mocked on most draft boards. Every single one of these players has been with more than 10 points per game so far in their career. Hardaway and Brooks have even averaged more than 15 per game. Wiggins is by far the worst in terms of getting to the line, but has is a good finisher, and had more to do than some of these in college. Most of them are late first, early second.

Summary

Wiggins is ranked 52nd by Tankathon and 48th by ESPN. There is a case for him to be taken even sooner. As we have looked at him as a whole, and examined his game level by level, he should be considered a fringe first rounder. His ceiling to me seems like a starter caliber 2 guard, who can defend multiple positions, handle the ball at a high level, create on an ok level, and stretch the floor slightly above average. Lets say he peaks at 17 6 3 with 37% from three on good volume. This means he is a very good mix of a 3 and D player with a glue wing/ wing creator.

Realistically he is probably a 3 and D wing exclusively, who defend guards and some wings, initiates transition, can score in ISO, and shoots around 35% from 3 on an ok volume. Those type of players are really hard to find in the league, and they are mostly paid 8 figures per year. I would bet on Wiggins, his continual improvement at his 3 years at Maryland makes me optimistic that he will trend towards his ceiling than his floor in the NBA.

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