It was a foregone conclusion that Anthony Edwards would be selected first overall in the 2020 NBA Rookie Draft on draft night. What was far from certain, however, was who would come next. On one hand, there was social media superstar LaMelo Ball, fresh from a professional stint in Australia with the NBL. On the other, an incredibly gifted big man in Memphis Tiger, James Wiseman. As fate would have it, Golden State selected Wiseman second, and LaMelo became the Rookie of the Year after being selected third by the Charlotte Hornets.
The rationale for not drafting Ball is simple, having him alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson could spell trouble for the rest of the league on offense but could also be easily exploitable on defense. Regardless of how good of a defender Draymond Green is, he cannot cover the deficiencies a lineup of Curry and Ball would present. So Golden State selected Wiseman, a player with so much upside but many questions surrounding his ability to adapt to the NBA. Many believe that this choice was more about not selecting another backcourt player than actually thinking Wiseman was the best player available. Apparently, this is not the case, as coach Steve Kerr recently expressed his vision for Wiseman after tuning into the NBA finals.
“To me, the most interesting thing has been watching DeAndre Ayton. I talked to James and texted him, and I’m just so inspired by what Ayton has been able to do, and I think there’s no reason why James can’t follow that same path.”Steve Kerr on DRK957
For Kerr to say this publicly is a great show of confidence in the young big man, but does he really believe it? Wiseman has the size and athleticism to become as good or maybe even better than DeAndre Ayton, given that James has the ability to stretch the floor and handle the basketball. Still, he is not as much of a force on the glass and spent much of the season coming off the bench behind Kevin Looney, a decision that Kerr made himself.
Wiseman also features in almost every trade scenario the Warriors are a part of; rumor or not, it is well-known that Golden State will not hesitate to trade James if the opportunity to upgrade their roster presents itself. The number two pick was also mentioned as a potential trade chip even before draft night, and it seems as if Wiseman’s play in his rookie year has not managed to stop the rumors from piling on. Considering how quickly DeAndre Ayton has improved and his impact on the NBA finals, why would Kerr and the Warriors want to part ways with such a promising young player?
With Klay Thompson set to make his return next season and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s impending free agency opening up some cap space, the Warriors have the opportunity to build a championship roster once again. Things get even more interesting as many stars are perceived to be on the trading block, with names like Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard being some of the biggest names supposedly available. The Warriors have discreetly made their interests known, and for any of these deals to go through, Golden State will have to include Wiseman to drum up the perceived value of the offer with a former number two pick.
The question now becomes, why hasn’t a deal even come close to happening? Is it because the Warriors are cold on the offers out there, or do teams not want to take the gamble on Wiseman? Perhaps it is the latter, and Steve Kerr is now working his magic to drum up interest in Wiseman to get his team back to championship contention.
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