The Golden State Warriors are in, quite possibly, the most unique situation in the NBA. Coming off a year where they only posted 15 wins due to their stars being out, 2x MVP Steph Curry breaking his hand early in the season, and 5x all-star Klay Thompson tearing his ACL in his left knee during the 2019 NBA Finals, they became one of the few winners of the NBA’s draft lottery landing the #2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Using that pick, they drafted one of the more talented and skilled players in the draft James Wiseman, formerly of the Memphis Tigers. Having an undeniable low post presence, in his limited collegiate time, on both sides of the ball, this draft selection may very well be the steal that leads the Warriors into the franchise’s future. Which is something they will have to consider even more so now with Thompson’s latest injury, a torn Achilles on his right leg.
Before the draft, the Warriors were thought of as a potential championship-contending team having all 3 members of their big three, Curry, Thompson, former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green, and their newest starter Andrew Wiggins. This core plus whoever they would’ve drafted would have been enough to push any team in the league to the brink. However, the tide has turned and now they have had to make moves in the reality that Thompson is out for the entire season.
Yet this goes back to them being in a unique position. Having three of the previously mentioned players in their starting lineup and the fourth likely being the newly acquired Kelly Oubre Jr., this creates the possibility of Wiseman stepping into a situation where he can exceed well past expectations. And frankly, some Warriors staffers believe he will do just that.
How Wiseman Can Be Top 5
Golden State’s Director of Player Personnel Larry Harris, recently joined KNBR’s “Murph & Mac” show where he discussed what he believes Wiseman can provide and how it will impact the team.
“The one thing about James for the fans to know is that he’s a very humble kid. He’s like clay for us in the sense of being able to mold him in the way we want to. He’s gonna be one of those young men that whatever Draymond [Green] tells him to do, he’s gonna absolutely do. Whatever Steve [Kerr] tells him to do, he’s going to do.”
“What I think the fans should expect is a guy who’s going to play with great energy, he’s a tremendous athlete at his size, he’s got really good hands, really good feet — and for those that follow basketball, for a big man if you have good hands and good feet, good things will happen for you. I think the sky is the limit for the kid. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him … I just think when his career is over, he’s gonna be one of the better centers from the time he entered the draft to the end of his career, barring no injuries.
“I think he’s gonna be one of the top five centers in the game. I do believe that. He has the potential.”
What Coaches Believe of Wiseman
For the years of Golden States’ title contention, they have had a rotation of big men who were primarily effective on the defensive end. Adding a player like Wiseman could unlock another level of their offense with him being so gifted on that end of the floor.
The belief in Wiseman being highly effective for them didn’t just start within the Warriors organization. His collegiate coach, former NBA superstar, Afrenee “Penny” Hardaway, previously discussed at length how well Wiseman would fit with the team prior to him being drafted.
“He can easily keep up with the game and the pace,” Hardaway told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “He’s very athletic, very fast. He’d instantly be one of the better rim runners in the league. He’s also a rim protector; he is going to protect the rim. His skill set is good enough now, and it’s going to get better, especially because he’d be playing with veterans like Draymond, Klay, and Steph.
“Also, he can space (his shot) out to the 3. He’s been working on his jump shot and his understanding of studying film and what a team wants and needs. In their system, with those guys, he would be spectacular.”