Believe it or not, it’s hard to predict the future. No matter how certain things seem now, there are always unforeseen factors that impact the outcome of any given thing. Sometimes, things just don’t go how you expect.
Five years ago, if I would have told you that Andrew Wiggins would be better than Kawhi Leonard, you probably would have believed it. Despite what we know about them now, things were different back then — and so was our perception of the two players.
Still sounds ridiculous? In 2015, a question was posted to the NBA subreddit that asked which player people would rather have: Kawhi Leonard or Andrew Wiggins. The responses will surprise you.
It’s easy to forget how good Wiggins was projected to be back then. When he was drafted #1 overall by the Timberwolves, there were talks that he was going to be the next great NBA superstar. Even after his rookie year, there were no indications that he would fall short of expectations. Right around these posts were made, he was averaging 16.9 points, and 4.6 rebounds in just his first season.
Back then, Kawhi Leonard wasn’t considered the elite talent he is now. During the 2014-15 season, Kawhi was still with the Spurs, averaging 16.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. He was dominant defensively, but nobody knew how good he would become.
It’s easy to see how anyone could be fooled and the NBA community back then was definitely a prisoner of the moment.
The reality of how things turned out may be more a testament about Wiggins and Leonard than the fans. It seems Wiggins, for all his potential, was never able to become the player so many people thought he would be. After the 2016-17 season, his numbers dipped as did his following. It seems distractions and an inferior work ethic got in the way of his path to superstardom. He has yet to establish himself as an elite defender.
Kawhi, meanwhile, emerged as one of the best players in the game. He maintained his defensive edge while expanding his offensive game. He led the Raptors to a Championship in 2019 and has been in the MVP conversation for the past few years.
We couldn’t have been more wrong about the direction of these players back in 2015. But, as they always say, hindsight is 20/20.