Physically, Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson have similar builds. Both are in the 6’7”-6’8” range with strong, 200ish-pound frames.
What they do with their bodies, though, is very different.
While Thompson butters his bread behind the three-point line, Wiggins is a high-flying slasher reminiscent of a young, raw LeBron James. Thompson can drive and Wiggins can shoot, but they stick to what works best.
So let’s pit one against the other. The marksman versus the acrobat, the shooter versus the athletic freak.
In a game of one-on-one — with nobody to hit Thompson with a pass or for Wiggins to cut backdoor on — which style wins out?
TALE OF THE TAPE
- Height: 6’8”
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Age: 20
- Wingspan: 7′ 0″
- Max-vert: 44”
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
- Height: 6’7”
- Weight: 205 pounds
- Age: 25
- Wingspan: 6′ 9″
- Max-vert: 31.5” (rookie combine, likely his risen to about 33”)
Game is to 15, win by two. Inside the arc is one point, beyond is two. Winner’s ball.
THE CASE FOR WIGGINS
Sometimes, Wiggins blends in:
One of those nights where Wiggins is “just a dude out there”
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) October 29, 2015
That was the case in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ opening-night victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The reigning Rookie of the Year shot 2-of-10 from the field for just nine points and one rebound. He was a background character in what essentially became the Ricky Rubio Show.
Against Thompson in this hypothetical one-on-one match, he has to be the star.
We’ve seen him do it. Last April, Wiggins poured in 29 points on the Lakers in 42 minutes of work.
It seems that the thing Wiggins lacks — or can lack — is aggression. There are nights he looks like he’s dropping 30 and doesn’t care who tries to stop him. And then there are others where he’s very laid back.
So, it depends which Wiggins shows up against Klay.
If it’s the motivated, I’m-going-to-rip-your-head-off version, Thompson would be in some trouble.
Last year, Wiggins had 258 assisted field goals and 239 unassisted, per NBA.com. Granted, he was playing on a seriously undermanned Wolves team, but that stat alone proves that Wiggins can get his own shot.
Thompson made 419 assisted buckets, while 183 were unassisted. That’s a huge gap. Stephen Curry assisted on 169 of them, but this is one-on-one. If it were a two-on-two game, the Splash Brothers probably wouldn’t lose to anyone in the league.
In 2014-15, Wiggins also proved to be an extremely capable defender, too. MVP runner-up James Harden learned that the hard way:
Thompson could out-shoot the Beard, but doesn’t have Harden’s handle. The longer he holds the ball, the tighter Wiggins will close in on him.
THE CASE FOR THOMPSON
Yes, Thompson is more of a shooter than a flat-out scorer. But let’s not sell him too short.
Surely you recall the night he set the basketball world on fire:
If Thompson gets in that type of zone against Wiggins, it’s over. If he got into that type of zone against Michael Jordan, it might be over.
Being that these one-on-one games are scored with ones and twos, Thompson could fill it up in a hurry. Clearly, he’s not fazed by a hand in his face when his feet are set and his shoulders are squared.
Last year, he shot 49.4 percent from the field with defenders within two feet of him. From three-point land, he shot 50 percent with opponents that close.
That’s the real wildcard in this game — the triple. Wiggins can get to the cup and defend with the best of ‘em. Thompson is no slouch defensively, either, and it was common for him to cover the likes of Chris Paul last year. Steve Kerr used him over Curry to stop opposing backcourt stars.
Both of these guys match up pretty well. But that three-pointer could make or break the entire game.
Wiggins jumps out to an early lead. And it grows. It’s 5-0 before Thompson gets the ball. He takes one dribble back and launches a three. Bang. Wiggins is force to play up on him, so Thompson scurries around for a few lay-ins. It’s tied at 5-5 when Wiggins starts using his length to his advantage. After a few buckets for the Canadian, Thompson tries to shoot another momentum-shifting bomb. Wiggins blocks it — James Harden, wherever he is, shivers. It’s 10-7, and Wiggins takes flight. One dribble, two steps and a single leap — boom. The ferocious dunk puts him up 11-7. Thompson, demoralized, wilts. He hits a garbage-time three, but Wiggins had already pulled away. With Wiggins’s final pullup, Drake’s “Draft Day” starts booming from the sky. No one knows where it’s coming from.
Final: Wiggins 15, Thompson 10