2020 second overall pick James Wiseman showed signs of promise when healthy in his debut season. In his rookie campaign, Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, suiting up for 39 games for the Golden State Warriors before shutting things down to make way for season-ending knee surgery.
A raw talent that missed most of his lone college basketball season due to a suspension, the Warriors selected Wiseman based on his upside, with his unique skill set promising to be a compliment to the Splash Brothers at the center position. Wiseman is now available to participate in practice sessions, but the young seven-footer seems to be taking a rather mature approach to his return to action.
A measured return to NBA action via the G-League is not unheard of as Toronto Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam was assigned to the Raptors' G-League affiliate to help him get the necessary repetitions required while returning from long battles with injury rehabilitation. Siakam was not a lottery pick like Wiseman, so to see this kind of maturity from a top pick with the tools of James Wiseman is truly refreshing and a testament to the way the Warriors run their organization to mold young talent.
The Warriors are off to a hot start, largely due to the Herculean efforts by Stephen Curry on the offensive end. The emergence of Jordan Poole and the continued rise of Andrew Wiggins are helping their cause, making them a team to watch with the much-anticipated return of sharp shooter Klay Thompson. However, the Warriors are still quite lean on the front line, with Draymond Green and Kevon Looney being their only reliable big men. The Warriors may be used to playing small ball, but in order to compete for a championship, they are going to need the size and agility of Wiseman to compete with some of the Western Conference juggernauts.
Wiseman gives the Warriors a body to throw at Nikola Jokić, DeAndre Ayton, and Anthony Davis. Without the size of the young big man, the Warriors will have to rely heavily on Green and Looney, which means their title hopes could disappear with one more injury to a key player. Wiseman's eagerness to humble himself to make as impactful of a return as possible is encouraging for Golden State, as they know they have a young talent that is committed to the process of improving while riding the highs and lows of an NBA season.
The second-year player has the tools to become a top player in this league, which is why the Warriors drafted him last year. With most young players, character and work ethic are usually the question marks on draft night, and it looks like Golden State just got the answer they were hoping to hear. Should Wiseman return to the Warriors as an improved player from this stint in the G-League, Golden State should be an even scarier opponent for teams in the playoffs.
Not only for his talent, but for the fact that the Warriors will have another player that is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win, even if it means having a slice of some humble pie so early in his career.