James Wiseman has had a mediocre first three years in the league. But given that he was the No. 2 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, fans have been expecting more from the young 7-footer. For now, he is assigned to the Golden State Warriors G League affiliate, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr explains why the "individualized attention" there will be advantageous for his growth.
"Practice is the big thing," Kerr said of Wiseman. "When you get individualized attention like the guys do in the G League it's easier to make more progress, I think, rather than the stops and starts that happen during the NBA season when you're not in the rotation."
There is no doubt about Wiseman's potential to be a game-changing big man. His brief time with the University of Memphis displayed how scary he can be on offense and defense.
Unfortunately, the Tennessee native didn't get enough college basketball experience after the NCAA deemed him ineligible for the 2019 season for illegally receiving financial help from Memphis coach and alumnus Penny Hardaway to move him and his family to the city a couple of years prior.
After a series of suspensions and legal proceedings, Wiseman opted to leave college and prepare for the NBA draft instead of returning. He finished his collegiate career with averages of 19.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per contest in just three games.
Wiseman's glaring lack of experience
Many pundits lauded Golden State's decision to select Wiseman, believing it was a good fit. The Warriors needed a young, athletic rim runner and paint protector. As for Wiseman, the possibility of learning the ropes alongside some of the best NBA stars could do wonders for his game.
Unfortunately, it was clear from the get-go that the promising center needs more time to adjust to the speed of the game in the pro league. While his number aren't too shabby (10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per match for his career), Golden State is getting outclassed on both ends of the court when Wiseman is on the floor.
Kerr addressed his lack of experience and the need to build the right foundation.
"I think it's just all part of natural evolution of a young player who doesn't have much experience, who happened to come into the league as the pandemic started and then missed a year-and-a-half with an injury," Kerr said about Wiseman's journey so far. "That's it, that's bottom line.”
"Every player needs a foundation, but when you have a guy who missed all of that time with the circumstances and hasn't been able to really build that foundation, you have to try and do the right thing to help him get going. This is what we're thinking."
The Warriors organization is hoping that a G League stint can help the 21-year-old get enough playing experience and practice time to help him reach his potential. In his first game for the Santa Cruz Warriors this season, Wiseman turned in a stellar performance.
Wiseman still has some things to work on, particularly his ability to stay away from foul trouble. The good news is that he has a huge leeway to commit and learn from his mistakes in the G League, something that cannot be said when he wears the Golden State uniform.