Few blue-chip ballers have struggled as hard in recent years as Golden State Warriors big man and former No. 2 pick James Wiseman. After showing flashes of his massive potential during his rookie year in 2020-21, the Memphis product fell prey to a torn meniscus, which was followed by a wild, stop-and-start rehab.
In the end, the 21-year-old found himself unable to return to the Warriors’ lineup in 2021-22, even after he progressed to the point that he was playing games in the G League.
Fans were given new reason to get excited about Wiseman, though, earlier this month when he was able to join Golden State’s entry into the Las Vegas Summer League. Not only that — he made his presence known by averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and a pair of blocks over four games.
Wiseman also raised eyebrows by knocking down a pair of three-point buckets, something he teased Dub Nation with during his rookie season as well. However, a top-ranking league exec has expressed doubt that firing from deep will be a normal part of his repertoire going forward.
GM: Warriors Will Keep Wiseman in His Lane
In speaking with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney, an Eastern Conference GM dished on Wiseman’s propensity for attempting long-range shots. He revealed that this aspect of the big man’s basketball psyche was something that they clocked during the pre-draft process.
“He wants to shoot the three. They’re not going to let him, but he wants to,” the GM said. “That was one of the questions we had about him before that draft — he wants to be an offensive player, he wants to handle the ball, he wants to shoot the ball, he wants to be Giannis.”
Regardless of what he might want, though, the fact is that the Warriors are blessed with a cornucopia of elite perimeter playmakers in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, et al. And the GM thinks that Wiseman is going to have to come to grips with that fact.
“They do not need him to do that, though, and that was one of the struggles they had, was just getting him to succeed in his role and understand, he can build out from there. But you’re playing with two of the great shooters in NBA history, let them do the shooting. There is some conflict there.”
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The Next Great Rim-Runner?
As a rookie, Wiseman connected on 12 of his 38 attempts from long range for a conversion rate of 31.6%. While those numbers offer promise that he could become some level of deep threat as his career unfolds, there’s no doubting where his bread is truly buttered.
On attempts within three feet of the hoop, Wiseman saw the ball pass through the net 79.4% of the time as a first-year pro. And despite appearing in just 39 games, he finished the season with a whopping 84 jams.
Frankly, that kind of threat at the tin is something the Warriors haven’t had since JaVale McGee was rolling and (rim) rocking in the Bay. And it’s not hard to envision Wiseman playing a similar role for the Dubs as they engage on a title defense next season.
Added the GM: “If you’re the Warriors you have to hope that having him watch the team win a championship really registered with him — hey, these guys are the best in the world without me, they do not need me, I need to find a way I can help them.”