Rookie James Wiseman is beginning to see himself fit into a larger role with the Golden State Warriors. Just after having his worst performance in the previous game against the Western Conference front runners, the Los Angeles Lakers, the forward put up his best performance yet in a 121-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Becoming acquainted with his new role, multiple veterans on the team are giving the 19-year-old pointers. Wiseman shared what he’s learned from his older teammates, specifically Draymond Green.
“Really, just being smart, listening to Draymond, talking to Draymond,” Wiseman said, in his postgame press conference. “He’s giving me little tricks, different tricks on how to be smart. How to stay on my feet, because I’m 7-1, so I don’t have to jump. So if I’m going to jump, be the second jumper. But just like using verticality, which I’m getting better at. But sometimes in the game, I foul here and there, but I am still getting better at the verticality rule and trying to make sure I understand that I am 7-foot-1, so I don’t have to go and get it.”
Wiseman Elaborates on What He’s Learning From Green
When Golden State drafted the young center No. 2 overall, the team had high expectations for him being that he only played three games during his collegiate career. Wiseman was added to the roster almost as a reaction to All-Star Klay Thompson’s Achilles injury right before the 2020 NBA Draft. Whether the Warriors made the right selection over LaMelo Ball is still in question, but the rookie center has had some impressive games during the season thus far, along with some not so impressive performances.
Along with production, the ex-Memphis star has been struggling with foul trouble. In just his first 14 games in the league, Wiseman has committed 49 fouls. This is the seventh-most in the league. Wiseman has been open to advice from fellow teammates and staff to combat this.
Besides being dominant on the offensive and defensive side for the Warriors, Green has taken on another role for the team — being a mentor to the young center. With Wiseman needing further guidance as he still adjusts to being a professional athlete, he goes to Green for help in the art of defending without fouling.
Frustrations are even starting to take a toll on Wiseman as he tends to get aggravated if he makes a mistake or acquires a foul. The rookie punched a water cooler after being removed from Monday night’s game against the Lakers after he had five fouls.
Being that Wiseman is 7-foot-1, it isn’t necessary for the center to go forward when guarding the rim Green told him. He can use his height to his advantage and go straight up instead. This has been a struggle for the rookie earning at least four fouls in the last four games. What the 19-year old seems to be lacking in confidence.
I just have high hopes for him, I have high beliefs in what he’s capable of doing. I think I probably believe in his capabilities than he do at this point. … I think he’s capable of handling that tough spot, and he’ll continue to get better at it.
Although it’s much too early in the season to judge Wiseman’s impact on the team as a whole, it’s important to remember how quickly things could change and how much growing the rookie had left to do. Overall, the Warriors team has been trying to assist in molding him to become a young star.
There’s Much Room for Wiseman To Grow
So far in just the first 14 games of his career, Wiseman has been compared to Kevin Garnett, Anthony Davis, and even reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Unfortunately, along with all of this praise comes criticism. Although the rookie has been impressing some, he still is giving off the vibes of a rookie.
There have been several moments so far this season where some can tell that he’s a 19-year-old who only played a few games in college. The center is talented but basically, he jumped from high school to the NBA.
Aside from fouling and staying consistent, the rookie has had a decent tenure with the Warriors so far. He’s averaging 11.4 points per game. Once Wiseman can master the art of defending without fouling, he could further make his mark as a dominant defender for Golden State.