An in-depth view of what could be expected of James Wiseman for the upcoming season.
TLDR: James Wiseman will likely come off the bench since Kevon Looney was named as the starter by head coach Steve Kerr. Wiseman could be looking at 10-15 minutes a night with an average of 7-8 points a game, 3-4 rebounds and 0.5 blocks a game for the season.
There is no bigger question mark on the Golden State Warriors than former second overall pick, James Wiseman.
The 7-footer came into the 2020 NBA Draft as the assumed pick of the Warriors due to his fit with the team. He was pegged as a big that could fly down the court, and soar for emphatic jams. His frame offered the potential to have some real promise on the defensive end and his jumper was decent enough to believe he could become a real threat at some point down the line. Almost a match made in heaven for both sides.
Only Wiseman’s college career was cut short due to recruiting inducements his family received from the University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway.
He was suspended by the NCAA for 12 games, but Wiseman chose to leave the University of Memphis to get ready for the draft. He finished his college career with three games under his belt. The enigma that was James Wiseman was born.
Although Wiseman was still seen as the best fit for the Warriors, rumors swirled that the Dubs would pull a fast one on NBA fans and select one of the most polarizing players in the draft, LaMelo Ball. He would go on to win Rookie of the year as the Charlotte Hornets’ third overall pick as the Warriors ultimately stuck with Wiseman.
With no summer league and a shortened “bubble” training camp/season, there was no real way for Wiseman to get his feet wet and get a feel for the NBA. He was thrown into the deep end.
On top of a weird COVID-riddled season, the number of games was reduced to 72, and fans were displayed on virtual screens from the comfort of their homes.
Wiseman had a decent rookie season, where he averaged 11.5 points a game on 51.9% from the field and 31.6% from three. He also grabbed 5.8 rebounds a game and blocked 0.9 shots a game. He played in 39 games and was the starter for 27 games.
Wiseman’s rookie season was cut short as he tore his meniscus against the Rockets in April of his rookie season.
There was hope that he could return for the 2021-22 season but Wiseman’s season ended due to a setback he suffered in December. Swelling in his knee called for an arthroscopic knee surgery to be done.
Wiseman was able to play in three G-League games during a rehab assignment, but shortly after, his season ended.
Hyping up Dubs fans
During Wiseman’s G-League stint, he averaged 17.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds a game, and 1.6 blocks a game in 20.7 minutes a night.
On paper, his numbers are very encouraging. The two numbers that stand out the most are the rebounds and the blocks. He was rebounding at a higher rate, as well as blocking more shots than in his rookie season.
But numerous concerns popped up during his time in the G-League. Of course, it was a very small sample size, but the concerns still remain.
Wiseman has trouble catching the ball, whether in the post, or a lob to the rim. This may come down to feel for the game, but that was something to be noted.
Wiseman’s basketball IQ is also something that needs to be addressed. His desire to dribble the ball up the floor is questionable since it usually ended in a turnover or a forced pass. He also had a number of bad shot attempts where he grabbed the offensive board and instead of putting it back up or kicking the ball out, he settled for a turn-around jumper or a tough shot.
There were a few instances where a mistake happened on the offensive side for the Santa Cruz Warriors, and instead of getting back on defense, Wiseman put his head down and meander down the court.. This can’t happen at the next level, especially when next to Draymond Green.
These aren’t damning concerns, but they are definitely ones to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.
On the bright side, Wiseman was much more physical during his G-League stint. Whether that is because he was playing against smaller competition, or he just felt more comfortable and confident, it was good to see.
He was banging down low, beating his defender to the dunker’s spot, and putting himself in really good positions to score or grab a rebound. It was terrific to see him asserting himself in the paint and establishing his presence on both ends of the floor.
Here is Wiseman doing his best Shaq impression:
Defensively he was a much better rim-protector in the G-League. If this continues, he will have no problem carving out a spot in the rotation.
“It felt good,” said Wiseman after his first G-League game. “It reminded me of myself last year.”
Tough times in Vegas
Wiseman’s stats were nothing to write home about in the Las Vegas Summer League.
He averaged 10.5 points a game, 5.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 20.3 minutes a game. That’s obviously a stark difference from his G-League stint.
Wiseman’s fouling issue is still a major concern. During his time in the Summer League, he averaged 4.7 fouls a game. In the Summer League, you’re allowed 10 fouls before you foul out. This is to allow players to play more aggressively without the penalty of fouling out looming over them.
In his rookie season, Wiseman averaged 3.1 fouls a game, so this remains an issue he must address it before the season starts.
But on the bright side, if we take things as we saw, he looked like a much-improved center in the way he moved. He was able to showcase his potential as a two-way player.
Wiseman made his presence felt immediately in his first possession of summer league with a thundering dunk:
On the offensive end, it is very positive to see Wiseman keeping up with the physical play that he had during his time in the G-League. As much as I would love to see him knock down jumpers at a high rate, that’s not what’s best for the Warriors right now. At the moment, the Warriors need a rim-running big man.
On the defensive end, Wiseman was sharp. He displayed his rim-protecting early on:
Wiseman seemed to be much more patient when blocking shots. He was sitting, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on the shot. His defensive improvement is a good sign as defensively he struggled during his rookie season.
In his final game of the Summer League, Wiseman put everything together with this sequence:
In his four games during the Summer League, Wiseman looked good. His stats do not tell the whole story. Of course, there is still a flurry of concerns, but with an entire offseason to work on his game, Wiseman can only get better.
The best part of the Summer League for Wiseman was getting through four games without any setbacks. *knocks on wood*
As I mentioned earlier, the Warriors need a rim-runner that can catch lobs and clean up messes on both ends. If he can play that role, similar to Kevon Looney, he will fit in right away.
It is already known that Looney is getting the starting nod.
Looney offers the Warriors much-needed stability from the center position. He doesn’t need to score to make his presence felt on the court. He plays good defense, rebounds the ball, and sets bone-crushing screens for shooters and cutters to score off of. Looney earned every penny from his three-year $25.5 million contract, if anything, that is a steal for the Warriors organization.
Wiseman is going to at least begin the season with a bench role. This will be a good thing for Wiseman since he needs to get caught up with what the Warriors are doing now. When Wiseman was drafted, the team was still figuring out what the goal was. Now the team is looking to repeat as NBA champions.
With the signing of JaMychal Green, there are limited minutes to go around for bigs thus far. J. Green is a scrappy big who can stretch the floor and do the dirty work on both ends. At the moment, he offers the Warriors a consistent bench player. While Wiseman may offer more of an upside, his play will be up-and-down. Throughout his tenure in the NBA, he has been erratic, which is to be expected from a young big who has barely played in full games since his days in high school.
Wiseman’s role will need to be simplified this season. He will most likely be asked to protect the paint, rebound the ball, set screens, and cut to the basket for easy twos.
He will basically be asked to run a role that is similar to Kevon Looney, just a souped-up athletic version.
If Looney starts the entire season, Wiseman likely fights to carve out a rotational spot. If he is able to, I could see Wiseman averaging around seven to eight points a game, while shooting 55% from the field. He could grab around three to four rebounds a game and average around half a block a game in about 10-15 minutes a night.
In all honesty, it will be a waiting game with James Wiseman. The Warriors aren’t a young team looking to develop their young guys, they are a title contender looking to repeat as champs. As of right now, Looney offers the Warriors the best chances to win because he is a savvy veteran that knows the ins and outs of the Warrior’s complex system.
Warrior fans will need to be patient with Wiseman, he will prove to be worth the wait.