© AP Photo/Jason DeCrow
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, congratulates Canada's Andrew Wiggins, of Kansas, who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York.
LAS VEGAS – Midway through the first half of an NBA summer league game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, a fan could be heard loud and clear: "Give Wiggins the ball. We paid to see Wiggins!''
The heckling wasn't really necessary – Andrew Wiggins' already knew who to pass to. The NBA rookie went to the free-throw line 20 times in that game alone.
With chaos swirling around him, Wiggins remains as cool as ever. Through being drafted first overall, a summer league debut, the return of LeBron James to Cleveland, and now, trade talk, the Cavaliers rookie has shown poise under pressure.
Getting more comfortable as the days go by, the Vaughan, Ont., native scored 21 points on 3-for-5 field goals, making 15 of those 20 free-throw attempts. In his first four games, the 19-year-old averaged 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He's also averaging more than nine free throws per contest.
New Cavaliers head coach David Blatt has only been with Wiggins for three weeks, but he has already been impressed by what he's seen.
"What you've got to like about a kid like that, it doesn't make a difference if it's the fourth game of summer league or fourth game in seven days or eight days, if people are keying on him or if the crowd has funny things to say to him, he just goes out there he really plays,'' Blatt said. "He has a nice calm about him, a real good demeanour. Andrew's going to be a high-level player.''
With rumours swirling of a potential trade between the Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves to bring Kevin Love to Cleveland, Wiggins has managed to keep focused on his summer league debut.
Admitting he was nervous before his first game until the jump ball went up, Wiggins hasn't been flying solo for his first week of game action since becoming a pro.
He has had family there with father Mitch Wiggins on hand to watch his two sons. Older brother Nick Wiggins is on the Sacramento Kings summer league roster.
"It's been great,'' Wiggins said. "Getting to see my brother play on a team, and my dad down here watching me, and just all my friends that were supporting me back home, it's a great feeling.''
While he showed why he was this year's top pick in Cleveland's game against the Rockets, like most first-year players going through summer league, Wiggins has had up-and-down moments in Las Vegas. Shooting just 40 per cent from the floor, getting familiar with the size and spacing of the NBA will take time.
"There's so many different things,'' Wiggins said. "From the defensive side, the first game I got called for defensive three in the key. Just knowing your spacing, knowing where to be on the floor. You can't help too far from your man. On the offensive side, just learning different plays, different plays in the summer league is going to translate to the regular season.''
What sets Wiggins apart from so many of his fellow rookies is that even his quieter games are filled with highlight-worthy plays. The athleticism and potential are undeniably exciting.
"Pretty much what I expected,'' Blatt said of his rookie's performance in Vegas. "Great two-way player, a guy that impacts the game on both ends of the floor. Seeing him getting used to a more physical style of play and maybe some different kinds of players than he's seen before, and that's a good thing. Overall I think he's done a great job as well, and I'm really happy with him.''
Helping Wiggins to make the transition is fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett. Sidelined last summer because of shoulder surgery, this is Bennett's first time participating in summer league action. Back-to-back No. 1 picks who have played together in the national team program and AAU basketball, the two had chemistry even before Wiggins was selected in this year's draft.
"If I need advice from him, he got me,'' Wiggins said. "He's been through everything last year, he knows how everything goes, so it's great to have someone to really lean on and pick his brain and see how it was his first year.''