Before the 2019 NBA Draft arrives, Peachtree Hoops will break down more than 70 available prospects with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks may look to do in late June.
This edition examines Iowa State’s Lindell Wigginton.
Lindell Wigginton is testing the NBA Draft waters after winning the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award en route to helping Iowa State to a 23-win season. He been prominent on the basketball scene for a number of years now, having played for the international team in the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit and playing the final three seasons of his high school career at the famed Oak Hill Academy. It would not be the least bit surprising to see him play for the Canadian national team in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Despite him being a consensus top 50 high school prospect in 2017, it’s not a given that he’s an NBA player. He will get very serious consideration from NBA organizations for a number of reasons. He’s a dead-bang long distance shooter, he takes every defensive possession seriously, and he is, by all accounts, an excellent teammate.
The challenge he has to overcome is that he has point guard size (6’2 190 lbs) but he’s an underwhelming playmaker with an average handle. He’s also a much better in catch-and-shoot opportunities than when he is shooting off the dribble.
If this draft class had a shooting competition from the logo, I would probably put my money on Wigginton. He has absolutely ridiculous range.
NBA teams are increasingly valuing players that have to be accounted for as a shooter from two full steps behind the three-point line. With that in mind, the gift Wigginton brings as a shooter will garner the attention of probably every NBA organization. The issue for him, though, is that if you chase him off of the three-point line, he becomes a far less efficient scorer. He has trouble finishing at the rim and is inconsistent shooting from mid-range.
Wigginton connected on 39% of his attempt from beyond the three-point line while converting just 44% from two-point range.
He might be served to work with an organization that will let him have his first professional season to work on his playmaking skills. At the NBA level, he is going to need to be able to punish a defender chasing him off the three-point line with a pass to an open teammate as a result of defenders rotating. He’s not likely to ever be good enough finishing at the rim to rely on his scoring prowess when playing on-ball as a team’s primary offensive engine.
He never racked up a lot of assists but he did show occasional flashes of being able to make a competent pass when the defense dictated such.
As a ball handler, Wigginton can cough up some turnovers when he gets sped up, but he’s never really been given a chance to play significant minutes on-ball at any level. Teams will need to evaluate how likely it is that they can help him expand his playmaking skills over the course of a season or two.
NBA coaches will love what he bring on the defensive end of the court despite his lack of size. He plays much bigger than his frame suggests. He is always in the right spot. He’s very willing to defend much bigger players. He is as effective defending off-ball as he is defending at the point of attack.
He plays with a lot of intensity as a defender and has excellent feel and rhythm. He is a good communicator. He embraces the challenge of defending his man, whoever that man is.
This possession gives us an opportunity to see him defending in space. He stays on the balls of his feet and is ready to track the ball handler in any direction. As his man attacks with the dribble, Wigginton stays connected to him without fouling. He never gives up on the play and eventually gets the block. Most players his size are hoping for help at the rim once the ball handler gathers to go up for the shot.
This is another interesting possession where he begins defender in man-to-man higher on the floor. A coach is going to love seeing him trying to see if he can get a fingertip on the pass lobbed over his head without him getting out of position.
He tracks the ball handler moving to his left as well as he did moving to his right. It’s mirror execution of the first defensive play we looked at, which is not all that usual for a 20-year-old (he’s 21 now). And, again, he never gives up on the play.
Most projections have him not being drafted. That could start to change as some players opt to go back to school rather than staying in the draft. He could do the same but I don’t think a third collegiate season would benefit him much.
To me, he looks like an ideal player to get on a two-way contract. Get him into camp and let him starting going to work with a professional player development coach. I think there is very little worry about him defensively apart from general roster construction considerations and such.
Offensively, if he can reach the level of being a team’s fourth guard, Wigginton would have value just because of what he brings as a shooter. Additional improvement in other areas is not unreasonable to speculate given what he showed in flashes at Iowa State during the 2018-19 season.