James Wiseman Has No Pressure

In his rookie debut, James Wiseman turned heads.  His 19 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes were impressive when you consider Wiseman hadn’t played in a basketball game in 13 months. Even Wiseman was impressed with himself. “I think I did really well for not playing in a year.”  His coach, Steve Kerr was excited watching the rookie. “He’s a really smart young man. He’s got a tremendous work ethic and he hasn’t even scratched the surface, so that’s what I think is really exciting and to think where he’ll be a few months from now.” Wiseman wasn’t shy about showing his versatility. A jump hook in the lane. A one-legged corner three fadeaway. Of course, his defense needs attention, particularly his footwork, physicality, and just understanding the coverages. But it was NBA game number one. And James Wiseman more than passed the test.

In recent years, the Warriors have drafted well, selecting Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but the last time the Warriors had a number two pick in the NBA Draft, was, well…never. The Warriors drafted a few number three picks that were disappointing. Chris Washburn was a bust and Mike Dunleavy (nicknamed Skeletor by Warrior fans) was an average NBA player, nothing special. Of course, Nate Thurmond was a Hall of Famer, drafted 3rd in 1963.

The Wiseman pick is the highest Warriors pick since Steph Curry in 2009 and Wiseman looks the part. He fits the modern big with his versatility. How did his opener compare with others?

Age Points Rebounds W-L
James Wiseman, 2020 19 19 6 L by 26
Kevin Garnett, 1995

 

19 8 1 L by 9
Tim Duncan, 1997 21 15 10 W by 11
Anthony Davis, 2012 19 21 7 L by 4
Zion Williamson, 2020 19 22 7 L by 4

 

The devastating Klay Thompson injury created a lot of collateral damage, like the Warriors not being contenders in 2021. But there’s an upside with a young kid like Wiseman.  He can develop his confidence and work on his flaws without the intensity of the Warriors being legitimate contenders. He can settle into the NBA life, structure, bruises, and tough days and he doesn’t have to worry about mistakes. He can just play. Figure out how his game fits in within the Warriors system and figure out how to achieve on the NBA level.

Wiseman plays like a lot of young players play. All athleticism and talent. Kerr’s excitement about the next few months is the anticipatory expectation that Wiseman is going to absorb the skills of a professional. How to fight through fatigue.  When to iso and when to make the extra pass. Where are his money spots? How to make the game slow down.

Two years ago the Warriors were the defending champions and with a record of 23-11 they had settled in. Then disaster in the 2019 NBA Finals to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Everything changed. Now roles have to be re-defined. Chemistry isn’t what it was. Strength In Numbers disintegrated to be replaced by…what?

It’s the Warriors unknown but with all the questions, one thing is clear as day. The Dubs got themselves a player and possibly Rookie of the Year. The rest of it is in doubt.