Warriors rookie James Wiseman missed two COVID tests after returning from the All-Star break, causing Steve Kerr to bench him for the entire first half of Golden State’s first game back against the Clippers.
You’re only a young, impressionable player once in your career. One of the things you have to learn right away is you got to handle your business, and you got to take care of everything.Steve Kerr, Real Ones
For the most part, Wiseman has done that. But missing those COVID tests put the Warriors behind the eight ball since the league forced him to miss the team’s first practice after the break — one that Kerr describes as crucial.
Steve used James’ mistake and turned it into a long-term lesson, re-emphasizing the importance of being a true professional. But he didn’t make too much of it. Kerr realizes that was an anomaly in an otherwise above-average maturity level a young rookie had shown.
He’s an unbelievable kid. He’s 19, but he’s really mature, he’s thoughtful, we have a great relationship, we talk every day. He’s so respectful, and he doesn’t take coaching personally.Steve Kerr, Real Ones
The last point Kerr made is crucial when trying to realize someone’s potential as a basketball player. Wiseman has no problem being yelled at — we see that from his interactions with Draymond Green. He doesn’t take criticism to heart, nor does he feel like there’s a target on his back.
The 19-year-old big man is humbly doing his job, letting the coaching staff and everyone else involved do theirs while they try to help him become the best basketball player he can be. And so far, it’s working.
Big guys without any college experience, they don’t come in and dominate the NBA. He’s having a better year than Kevin Garnett had, for example, when he was a rookie. Look at the numbers, watch the tape. James has had some moments.Steve Kerr, Real Ones
Here are the numbers. Kevin Garnett, the No. 5 pick in the ’95 draft, averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 28.7 minutes on the floor. Twenty-nine games into his rookie campaign, Wiseman is averaging 11.8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block per game in 20.8 minutes. He’s also shooting 52.6% from the floor, 36.7% from three, and 61.3% from the charity stripe.
Wiseman’s performance thus far puts him No.5 on the NBA’s latest rookie ladder. With LaMelo Ball out for the season, he should be even higher. But according to Kerr, that shouldn’t be his main concern. Drawing comparisons with draft-class peers is inevitable, but it shouldn’t take Wiseman’s eyes off the bigger picture.
There’s no doubt James knows what Lamelo is doing and knows what Anthony’s doing, wants to be playing 30 minutes and the whole deal, but it’s a different set of circumstances. And as a big man, it’s a much tougher transition than it is as a guard. But he’s doing great. He’s learning every day, and I’m telling you, this guy is going to be special.Steve Kerr, Real Ones
Wiseman is indubitably in great hands with a guy like Steve Kerr as his head coach and incredible veteran leadership around him. All that’s left for him is to continue working his butt off.