NBA

James Wiseman element adds to Warriors obvious to end NBA Summer League

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The thinking was clear when the Warriors used the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on center James Wiseman from Memphis, despite his raw skill and lack of experience. The 7-footer would immediately bring size to Golden State’s roster as someone who could be a big-and-lob threat.

Before Wiseman’s rookie season was cut short by a torn right meniscus, it was clear he still had a long way to go as a rebounder and figured out how to use his body. He didn’t play a single NBA game last season because of that right knee. But in the Warriors’ final game of their summer league schedule, an 87-77 loss to the Washington Wizards, Wiseman’s improvements were clear, as was the extra element he should be able to bring from day one. if he was healthy.

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“I think he had a great outing today, probably his best,” Warriors coach Jama Mahlalela said after the loss. “Just his energy and his up and down motions on the floor.”

Right away, Wiseman impacted the defensive side of the ball, fending off a shot that earned an “Oh! I think Wiseman blocked that with his elbow,” the show’s reaction.

In his 19 minutes played, all in three quarters before the Warriors released their benchers and lost their lead, Wiseman blocked two shots, grabbed six rebounds and scored 11 points. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts, although he proved he had the range and the shot to let it fly from there sometimes. Down there, he was sometimes a force.

In the final 30 seconds of the first half, Wiseman gave us all a taste of how he can strengthen offense and defense. First, he set up a solid screen for Mac McClung before rolling to the hoop and launching a loud dunk. Then on the other side, Wiseman swept his second block of the night, a streak that should make every Warrior smile somewhere.

“His scouting and rolling was done with more pace today,” Mahlalela explained.

Wiseman’s five buckets came all the way around the edge. He completed several alley-oops and beat the buzzer late in the third quarter with an acrobatic finish.

Draymond Green led the Warriors last season with 1.1 blocks per game. Wiseman averaged 0.9 blocks per game as a rookie. Now, with a season of watching champions and plenty more muscle on his long frame, Wiseman has totaled eight blocks in his four games played in Las Vegas, good for averaging 2.0 blocks per game while playing around 20 minutes per game.

Kevon Looney led the Warriors with 83 dunks in 82 regular season games. Wiseman as a rookie had 84 dunks in 39 games. You get the picture.

The combination of Wiseman and players like Jonathan Kuminga will bring more size, explosiveness and athleticism to the Warriors from season opener through the end of their season.

Wiseman improved as a screener with every game in Vegas. He’s shown the ability to block shots and disrupt offenses no matter how giddy he is jumping on almost anything right now. The Warriors know his offensive skills are already there and should provide something they don’t – a true lob threat – as he continues to expand his arsenal around the rim.

RELATED: Wiseman Showcases Unique Skills in Warriors’ Vegas Finale

The 21-year-old played four straight games to end the Warriors’ summer league schedule. That’s more than he’s played in college and his longest streak since playing 10 straight from late March to early April in 2021 before the end of his rookie year. Golden State hasn’t had many wins this summer after celebrating another title.

What Wiseman showed in Sin City, however, was a win for the present and perhaps even more for the future.

“It bodes well for the rest of his summer,” Mahlalela said. “He can now do development work and not rehab work. It’s a fundamentally different thing for him and we’re just – as a coaching team and organization – excited about this process and for him to learn, grow and train to camp a different player, because he actually had a summer where he can work.”

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