Of everything that played out during the Golden State Warriors‘ offseason, the thing that got people the most hot and bothered was arguably James Wiseman’s return during summer league. There’s no shame in that, either, considering his massive potential as a former No. 2 pick.
Over four appearances in Las Vegas, Wiseman averaged 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and two blocked shots in just under 20 minutes per game. He also showed that he still has range, knocking down a pair of long-range bombs.
It was a strong enough performance to get Dub Nation hyped about what he could bring to the second unit next season. However, Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley clearly needs to see more before he buys a ticket to board the Wise Train.
On Thursday, the hoops scribe dropped his Warriors roster power rankings and the seven-foot youngster didn’t fare particularly well in the exercise. Rather, Wiseman was ranked 11th out of 13 evaluated players, smack-dab in the middle of Buckley’s “bottom-tier” group.
Buckley Hasn’t Seen Enough to Call Wiseman a Key Warriors Cog
Wiseman’s placement among Golden State’s rookie projects, a second-year man in Moses Moody who averaged just 11.7 minutes per game last season and a reclamation signing in JaMychal Green may come off as a head-scratcher to some. In fairness, though, Buckley didn’t have much to go on when he was evaluating the big man.
“The shrug emoji feels like an appropriate way to analyze Wiseman to this point,” he lamented.
Buckley did concede that Wiseman’s physical tools are next-level. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 21-year-old is on the fast track to becoming a game-changer.
“There aren’t many 7’1″ centers with his level of skill and athleticism, but after following an up-and-down rookie season with a sophomore campaign erased by a knee injury, he’s (literally) a massive question mark.”
Dub Nation may no love that write-up, but thing is — Buckley’s assessment isn’t unfair.
At this point in his career, Wiseman is at a serious experience deficit, having only appeared in a combined 42 college and pro games. And while fans were frothing at the mouth about what he could potentially bring to the table during his attempted comeback last season, there was no guarantee he was going to be in the rotation or affect games in a meaningful way.
However, as Kevon Looney’s primary backup in 2022-23, Wiseman should have a golden opportunity to erase any lingering doubt about his future.
Wiseman’s High School Forced to Vacate Wins
Back in 2017, Wiseman was embroiled in controversy when he transferred from Ensworth to Memphis East High School, where his AAU coach — former NBA star Penny Hardaway — had just been hired. For a short time, Wiseman was even ruled ineligible due to his previous link to Hardaway, but the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association eventually reversed course.
Flash forward to now, though, and the TSSAA has again taken action against Memphis East.
As relayed by the Commercial Appeal, the TSSAA is ordering Wiseman’s alma mater to vacate its wins and championship hardware from the baller’s two seasons with the Mustangs for violating the governing body’s recruiting rule. Memphis East was also fined $15,000.
Said Hardaway: “I’m disappointed to learn of this decision… However, it doesn’t erase the lives that were changed and the positive impacts on our youth that were made during my time at East High School”
Hardaway’s high-school recruitment of Wiseman, which also included payments to the baller’s mother to cover moving expenses, was at the heart of his eligibility problems at the University of Memphis (where he was again coached by the former All-Star) as well.