James Wiseman, Warriors on same page for big offseason development


LAS VEGAS — In any sport, roster composition on paper versus actual roster composition in games can be apples to oranges. Such was the case when the Warriors selected center James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, one spot behind Anthony Edwards and one ahead of LaMelo Ball.

The Warriors’ most glaring long-term flaw seemed to be a big star man. They already had shooters from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They already had Draymond Green as their unique Swiss army knife and defensive star. Adding an ultra-talented 7-footer could be their final move to expand the dynasty.


But as Wiseman’s rookie year progressed, which didn’t include a training camp or preseason roster after playing just three games in college, questions about his fitness swirled. continued to grow.

Do the Warriors really need a real center? Can Wiseman thrive in Steve Kerr’s system? How long will they have to wait for it to reach its potential?

A torn meniscus that interrupted his first professional season after 39 games did Wiseman a disservice. Now entering Year 3, or really Year 2 for him after watching the Warriors win a championship from the sidelines, Wiseman and the coaching staff are on the same page for a critical offseason of development. It all comes down to one word that can take him and the Warriors far.


“I would say just play my part, keeping it simple,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview a day before his Las Vegas Summer League debut. “I just play in the system and I don’t try to do too much. I really don’t have to do the same. Just do the most important parts of my position and play in my role to the best of my ability. .

“Bouncing, running on the ground, blocking shots and protecting the rim. That’s really it.”

Wiseman doesn’t need to be at the top of the arc to try to dribble between his legs and throw a step back three. Maybe it will come one day. He is full of natural offensive skills.

Last season, the 6-foot-9 Looney led the Warriors with 83 dunks in the regular season. Wiseman had 84 dunks in 39 games as a rookie. In field goal attempt percentage, Gary Payton II was second on the Warriors last season, behind only Looney. Wiseman is listed as being nine inches taller than Payton, and that might be conservative.

It didn’t take long for the 21-year-old Wiseman to deliver the highlights he will bring right away now that he is healthy again. His first two summer league points came from a 19-year-old Jonathan Kuminga lob, one that ended with Wiseman shaking the hoop and putting his teammates on their feet.

During Wiseman’s four games in Las Vegas, he averaged 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game while averaging just under 20 minutes per game. His 36 minutes were equivalent to 18.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.6 blocks.

As a rookie, he hit double-digit rebounds only three times and fould four times. He had multiple blocks 12 times and averaged 0.9 blocks per game, which would have ranked second to Draymond on last season’s championship team. He also had a defensive rating of 109 per 100 possessions.

With his combination of height, length, extra muscle, and plenty of athleticism, those numbers, especially his rebounds, should increase now and jump in the future.

“Going forward, with his talent, with his size and his athleticism, there’s no reason he can’t be a dominant defensive player in the league,” Kerr said after the June 22 season. . “But it takes a lot of rehearsals. It takes a lot of recognition.

“It takes a lot to be on the court with nine other people, not just in individual training or in the weight room.”

Now that he’s done his rehab work and can have a developmental offseason, individual work and game situations, Wiseman is on board with Kerr and has defense in mind.

“I really work on the defensive side of the game,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “The attacking side will come with time. But I’m really working on the defensive side.”

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The Warriors haven’t had a rim-runner and shot-blocking threat like Wiseman in the two seasons JaVale McGee spent in the Bay Area. McGee was 29 and 30 as a Warrior, started 27 regular season games, 10 in the playoffs, and doesn’t have the same kind of cap as Wiseman.

If Wiseman keeps it simple and looks to hone his role in the present before his game can grow, he’ll far exceed anything McGee has ever given Golden State. The good news? His focus is spot on, in tune with the Warriors and matches his smile to be back on the court.

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