As the Golden State Warriors gear up to defend their title next year, there will be a new emphasis placed on a new area – development. Obviously, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the roster, they will continue to compete for championships, but they should also look to help their young players improve.
Jonathan Kuminga showed flashes of greatness last year, and with Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica having departed, he could receive more opportunities. The same goes for Moses Moody, who could also see increased playing time. But perhaps the most intriguing young player on Golden State’s roster is big man James Wiseman.
The second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman has only appeared in 39 games in his career thus far, all of which came during his rookie season. However, while he was unable to compete in any games last year, CJ Holmes of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Wiseman is beginning to greatly improve.
“Wiseman is aware of the areas of his game that need improvement and is “really starting to make some headway” this offseason following his debut at Las Vegas summer league,” Holmes wrote on August 25. “Though the Warriors still don’t know what kind of production to expect from the 21-year-old center, or which lineup combinations in which he fits best, they remain confident that he’s on track to reach his potential.”
As far as what he’s working on, Holmes noted that playmaking and spatial awareness are two key areas.
Wiseman’s Necessary Offensive Improvements
The young big man will have a real opportunity to earn minutes next season, as he could find himself behind only Kevon Looney on the center depth chart. Offensively speaking, learning to make plays all over the court will greatly improve his chances of earning regular playing time.
“However, Wiseman will have to work on his ability to make plays from all over the court, not just in the post, and develop better spatial awareness,” Holmes stated. “He has to have a better sense of offensive spacing and movement within the Warriors’ system and how to make plays with and without the ball in his hands, like Draymond Green and Looney can.”
Despite his lack of regular season experience, Wiseman did play in a couple of Summer League games this offseason. In his two appearances, Wiseman averaged 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 56.0% shooting from the field.
Meanwhile, Wiseman also has improvements to make on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Wiseman’s Necessary Defensive Improvements
As noted by Holmes, Golden State’s big men are the centerpiece of their defensive scheme. Looney played that role, and Green does as well. In order for Steve Kerr to trust him as a regular piece in the lineup, Wiseman needs to be the best defender he possibly can be.
“Golden State’s bigs act as the “control tower” of the team’s defense. They call the shots from behind the line, communicating and making sure teammates are in the right positions. Obviously, Draymond Green is elite at that, and Looney has made great strides in recent seasons. For Wiseman to gain trust and stay on the court for longer stretches, that’s something at which he’ll have to be proficient as well,” wrote Holmes.
All Warriors fans will have to keep their eyes on Wiseman this season because he has a chance to have a breakout year.