Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Gets Brutally Honest About James Wiseman

Steve Kerr Finals Game Five

Getty Steve Kerr addresses the media following Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.

There’s no doubting that the Golden State Warriors had incredibly high hopes for James Wiseman when they selected him No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ahead of the baller’s rookie campaign in 2020-21, owner Joe Lacob went so far as to refer to him as a “once-in-a-decade kind of guy.”

Not much has changed over the last two years, either, even as Wiseman has struggled to stay on the court.

It’s fair to say that some among the Dub Nation denizens feel the same way as Lacob, too, which is why it was such a big deal that Wiseman was able to play in four straight summer league games and average 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in July.

However, if you were expecting the 21-year-old to come in and replace Kevon Looney as the starter and be a go-to guy offensively in 2022-23, Warriors coach Steve Kerr just served up a reality check for you.

Coach Kerr Essentially Declares Wiseman a Backup

Best of James Wiseman at 2022 NBA Summer LeagueWelcome back, J-Wise! Take a look at James Wiseman's best dunks, blocks and buckets from 2022 NBA Summer League!2022-07-18T02:26:08Z

Kerr just appeared on the latest episode of the Real Ones podcast with former NBA baller Raja Bell and co-host Logan Murdock. During the chat, the subject of Wiseman’s role came up, prompting the Dubs’ playcaller to set some realistic expectations for his blue-chipper.

“To be fair to [Wiseman] and to Loon, Loon’s our starting [center],” Kerr said. “He’s a championship player. He’s won multiple rings. He’s proven in the playoffs that he can switch and guard almost anybody out there, and also has the wherewithal to be really effective offensively because of his knowledge, his screen-setting, his recognition of patterns…”

As if there were any doubt about what that means for Wiseman, Kerr clarified the situation in short order.

“Realistically, Wise will back up Loon..”

Regardless of how high his ceiling is, the fact remains that Wiseman only has 39 career games under his belt. On top of that, he’s coming off a meniscus tear and an overlong, stop-and-start rehab process where very little went according to plan.

With that being the case, Looney is simply the safer choice for a team like the Warriors that wants to keep winning at a high level. That’s not to say, though, that Kerr is sleeping on Wiseman.

Kerr on What Wiseman Brings to the Table

Even as the Warriors coach is sticking with his vet in Looney, he understands full well that a healthy (and playing) Wiseman adds another dimension to the team’s offense right now. His otherworldly physical talents open up options that the club hasn’t had in a handful of years now.

“Wise has the capability to do some things that Loon can’t, number one being a lob threat,” Kerr said. “So we gotta put Wise in a position where he can be diving to the rim, giving us that vertical spacing that we haven’t had maybe since JaVale [McGee] was here. He runs the floor beautifully.”

If Wiseman wants to make inroads toward more playing time, the defensive end is really where he’ll have to do it. For his part, Kerr clearly believes that the baller has it in him.

“The biggest thing for James is he has the capability to be a really dominant defender with his size and speed, but it takes a ton of reps, so we’re gonna be asking him to defend, and run the floor and be that lob threat. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s gonna get better and better as the season goes on. He’s got a great future.”

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