The Golden State Warriors‘ starting lineup looked a little different in Monday night’s 130-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ahead of the matchup, head coach Steve Kerr placed rookie James Wiseman on the bench and instead started veteran center, Kevon Looney, in his place with the hopes of avoiding another slow start for the Warriors.
Wiseman Reacts to Being Benched
After another disappointing loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Kerr finally decided to make changes to his starting five. The team was in desperate need of a switch up to hopefully boost their momentum. Although Kerr has previously expressed his faith in the 19-year-old No.2 overall pick, Kerr decided to experiment in giving him a bench role that still allowed him to play an ample amount of minutes. Instead, Looney would get to start.
Looney has made an appearance in all 17 games so far this season and has made a major impact on the defensive side, which is what the Warriors lineup is struggling with the most. The effort that Looney has put forth this season by being an enforcer in the paint is mostly the reason why Kerr placed him in this position.
However, the rookie responded to his new role pretty well and even stated that he’s taking this as a learning process, per his postgame interview.
I look at it as a learning experience. It’s nothing bad at all, just due to the fact that we’re figuring the rotations and stuff. But everything’s coming together. I’m most definitely learning over there (on the bench) more, so it’s really helpful for my development as a basketball player.
Wiseman also said that this bench role should be helpful for his growth. Being able to witness Looney take on the role as he should prepare him more before he takes on a starting role again. Rather than worry about losing his starting role, Wiseman took this as an opportunity to see the game from a different perspective.
Wiseman was still able to finish the game with 13 points shooting 4-of-5 from the field in his 16 minutes of his new role. He was also able to pick up four rebounds and two blocks in his bench position.
The Rest of the Team Reacts
Wiseman’s stand-in mentor, Draymond Green, agreed with Wiseman’s thoughts on his new role. Green even added that Wiseman played a big role in the team’s win over the Timberwolves.
“If he’s coming off the bench or not, he’s one of the most important players on this team,” said Green in his postgame interview.
To Green, Wiseman still holds an important role in the team’s success. The two have formed a bond this season as the former Defensive Player of the Year has taken the rookie under his wing to get him acquainted with the ins-and-outs of the league. Green has even been noted to yell at the rookie during games to get him in sync.
Kerr even spoke out after the game admitting why he made this change.
“Basically, you guys have heard me all year trying to establish ourselves as a defensive team, and the last two games have been really disappointing defensively, particularly right out of the gate, first quarter,” per the Warriors’ SoundCloud.
The Warriors’ slow starts to their games have been a concern of the team, especially after their last two losses to the Jazz and the New York Knicks. By choosing to go with Looney and not Wiseman, the Warriors were able to hold the Timberwolves to only 23 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, while they scored 34.
Wiseman’s reaction to Kerr’s decision not to start him shows his growth as a player already. He viewed it not as a demotion, but as a learning experience. His new bench role might turn out to be beneficial to the Warriors as he joins players like Damion Lee and Eric Paschall.