James Wiseman is finally close to his return to the court for the Golden State Warriors, but some around the organization believe that the 20-year-old center’s commitment to the game could be a bigger long-term concern than his surgically repaired knee.
Wiseman has been out since April 2021 after suffering a knee injury that cut short the end of his rookie season and then wiped out all of his second year in the league. The former No. 2 overall pick had a difficult rehab process filled with frustrating setbacks, but he is expected to take the court very soon for the team’s Summer League games.
Though the Warriors have high hopes for Wiseman’s eventual role on the team, others are raising concerns about his lack of love for the game.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Concerns for Wiseman’s Future
The Warriors have remained publicly committed to Wiseman through his long rehab process, speaking highly of his potential and pushing back on reports that he could be on the trade block. But worries have begun to creep up among those close to the organization. On his ‘Hoops Tonight” podcast — hosted on Volume, the same platform as The Draymond Green Show — Jason Timpf noted that there are rumors floating about Wiseman’s lack of commitment to the game.
Timpf said the Warriors would make a mistake if they let veteran big man Kevon Looney walk in free agency in the hope that Wiseman could eventually grow into a star.
“Anybody who pushes in that direction, I view that as a very dangerous gamble,” Timpf said. “There’s a lot of intel on James Wiseman that he doesn’t even like basketball all that much, that he’s not itching to get back onto the court.”
Timpf added that some fans aired frustration when Wiseman was seen working out during the NBA Finals rather than pushing to get back onto the court. Late in the season, the team chose to shut him down for the year so he could focus on getting over the final hurdles of his recovery from a torn meniscus that required two surgeries.
“I think betting on him to be Looney for you next year would be a catastrophic mistake,” Timpf said, adding that Wiseman could need two to three more years before he can grow into a foundational center in the NBA.
Other Insiders Defend Wiseman
The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami noted that some of the criticism surrounding Wiseman could simply be due to his lack of playing time in the NBA. Wiseman was still adjusting to the NBA and finding his place in the Warriors’ offense when the injury cut his season short. It was enough to show off his potential, with Wiseman averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game his rookie year.
“I don’t know Timpf. I presume he’s hearing things,” Kawakami wrote. “Maybe they’re true. But isn’t every talented young big man (and remember, Wiseman is still just 21) who hasn’t played much inevitably at some point described like this? Doesn’t mean it’s true. Doesn’t mean it’s not true. I know the Warriors veterans think a lot of Wiseman’s talent.”
Kawakami added that he would only start to grow worried if Wiseman were to miss all of Summer League, which looks unlikely. While he will not be taking part in the California Classic at Chase Cente this weekend, Wiseman is on track to compete in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas that starts on July 7.
READ NEXT: Draymond Green Says Warriors Rookie Can Become ‘Perennial All-Star’
Kawakami is an idiot. He insulted me when I claimed firing Mark Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr was the right move when it happened. I’m still waiting for him to admit I wad right.
Article should be called “small time Lakers media guy doesn’t like James Wiseman”
As long as we go Steph Curry, I’ll lose no sleep..After Steph, you can cut the deck.