The Golden State Warriors have invested a lot in James Wiseman over the course of the last year.
There was the No. 2 overall pick they used to land the Memphis standout, the minutes they devoted and the commitment to keep him in the starting lineup down the stretch to aid in his on-court development. Then came the trade rumors and the proposals for Wiseman that the Warriors reportedly turned aside.
Now, as Wiseman’s second season is about to begin, the team is seeing those investments pay off.
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Wiseman Earns Praise from Coach
After having lost significant time in training camp his rookie year after a positive COVID-19 test, Wiseman is once again limited as he prepares for his second season. He suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee late last season, eventually undergoing surgery to have it repaired and now finishing up his rehab.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that even without the center getting much work on the court, he can already see a major difference in him.
“He’s doing really well, I think James is really kind of coming out of his shell,” Kerr said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “You can really see the maturity, he’s speaking up in meetings, feels much more confident, I can see it, and then the drill work he is doing, he is really picking things up quickly.”
Kerr had publicly supported Wiseman last season despite some ups and downs, ultimately committing to keep him in the starting lineup from the All-Star break on until the end of the season. Though Wiseman’s season would end up being cut short by the injury, the vote of confidence from Kerr signaled that his development was a top priority for the team that spent much of the season hovering around the edge of the playoff picture. Wiseman ultimately averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game.
Wiseman will be part of the team’s young core this season, as rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are expected to contribute off the bench.
Making the Most of His Time Away
Though Wiseman remains limited in what he can do physically, the 20-year-old center has done everything he can to prepare for the upcoming year — including spending some time with another injured member of the team. When the team held its media day back in September, Wiseman told reporters that he was spending time with Klay Thompson and getting guidance from the All-Star guard.
“I’ve been bonding with Klay a lot,” Wiseman said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’ve been going through a lot of games especially when the playoffs was on, we was watching it together and he was just telling me stuff that I can do to become a better center in terms of my role. Yeah, we’ve been talking a lot.”
Wiseman has gotten some time to bond with his teammate away from the court as well, getting to tour San Francisco Bay on Thompson’s boat.
“We was talking, we was vibing and having a great time and I enjoyed myself,” Wiseman said of his July boating trip. “And I was also his deckhand, so I was doing all that stuff man. It was crazy.”