James Wiseman, Warriors on the same page for a major off-season development

LAS VEGAS – In any sport, putting the list on paper compared to the appropriate physical list in games can be apples to oranges. That was the case when the Warriors picked James Wiseman’s center with second place in the 2020 NBA Draft, one spot behind Anthony Edwards and one ahead of Lamelo Ball.

The Warriors’ most obvious long-term flaw seemed to be a big guy. They already had bowlers in Steve Curry and Clay Thompson. They already had Draymond Green as their unique Swiss Army Knife and their defensive star. Adding a very talented 7ft could be the latest step in extending the breed.

But as Weizmann’s rookie year, which included no training camp or pre-season roster after playing just three games in college, continued, questions about Weizmann’s suitability continued to grow.

Do warriors really need a true center? Can Wiseman thrive in the Steve Kerr system? How long will they have to wait for him to reach his potential?

A torn meniscus that halted his first pro season after 39 games didn’t help Weisman anything. Now entering Year Three, or really Year Two for him after watching the Warriors win a championship from the sidelines, Wiseman and the coaching staff are on the same page for important off-season development. It all comes down to one word that can take him and the Warriors a long way.


“I’d say I’m just playing my part, just keep it simple,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area on the last episode of Dubs Talk in an interview a day before his summer league debut in Las Vegas. “Just playing within the system and not trying to do too much. I don’t have to do much. I just do the most important parts of my position and star in my league as best I can.

“Recoil, running the floor, blocking shots and protecting the frame. That’s it really.”

Wiseman doesn’t have to be at the top of the arc trying to bounce through his legs and throw a step back three times. Perhaps this will come one day. He is full of natural offensive skills.

Last season, Looney, 6-foot-9, led the Warriors with 83 regular season dives. Wiseman had 84 dives in his 39 games as a rookie. In percentage of field shooting attempts, Gary Payton II finished second last season in the Warriors, behind only Looney. Wiseman is listed as being nine inches taller than Payton, which may be on the cautious side.

It didn’t take the 21-year-old Wiseman long to showcase the highlights he would immediately bring in now that he’s healthy again. His first two summer league points came from a lob hit by 19-year-old Jonathan Kominga, which ended with Wiseman shaking the hoop and making his teammates on their feet.

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

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

With the combination of height, height, added muscle, and plenty of sports, those numbers, especially his bounce, should increase now and jump in the future.

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

“It takes a lot of being on the court with nine other people, not just being in a one-on-one workout or in the weightlifting room.”

Now that he’s done rehab work and can have an off-season development period, solo action and game-like attitudes, Wiseman agrees with Kerr and has defense at the front of his mind.

“I’m really working on the defensive side of the game,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “The offensive side will come at the right time. But I’m really working on the defensive end.”

RELATED: Element Wiseman clearly adds the Warriors to end the Summer League

The Warriors has never had a threat and shooting obstruction like Wiseman since JaVale McGee’s two seasons in the Bay Area. McGee was 29 and 30 years old as a Warrior, started 27 regular season games, 10 in the playoffs, and doesn’t have the same ceiling as Wiseman.

If Wiseman keeps it simple and keeps his eyes on perfecting his role for the time being before his game expands, he’ll far surpass anything McGee has given Golden State. The good news? His focus is on the spot, in sync with the Warriors and matching his smile back on the field.

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