James Wiseman was finally back on the hardwood on Saturday after going five days without an actual game, but his return didn’t come with the Golden State Warriors. Rather, the former No. 2 overall pick made his first official appearance with the Sea Dubs after being unexpectedly assigned to the G League.
And much as he did during his abbreviated stint with the club last season when he was working his way back from meniscus surgery, Wiseman put up numbers.
In 25 minutes of play, the 21-year-old scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also added 11 rebounds, one assist, a steal and a blocked shot. As ever, though, his counting stats didn’t paint a full portrait of how the night went for him.
He had his moments, to be sure — a first-quarter putback dunk in traffic after a Jerome Robinson missed layup rates highly — but the effort also showed, once again, that Wiseman has some stuff to figure out before he can make good on his massive potential.
Beyond the Basic Line
Faced with a veritable bonanza of Wiseman-related questions after the game — which the Sea Dubs lost, by the way — head coach Seth Cooper noted that the blue-chipper wasn’t in Santa Cruz to rack up numbers, as relayed by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Zena Keita. He’s there to learn what it takes to play the right way and be a force for good on the floor.
And while he got buckets and crashed the boards versus the junior Lakers, he also committed a whopping five fouls. And the Sea Dubs were outscored by 13 points when he was on the floor (only rookie Gui Santos had a worse plus/minus score).
Some of his issues have a lot more to do with his mindset than his ability, a fact that Wiseman is fully aware of. As such, he’s making it his goal to play forward rather than letting the mistakes of the last play/quarter/game have a lingering effect.
“I want to get everything right so if I make a mistake, I kind of get down,” Wiseman said after the game, via the Mercury News. “But that’s not going to help me. So I just want to make sure I use my perfectionism in terms of my craft instead of just using it on the court and just making sure every time I mess up on the court, make a mistake — just next-play mentality.”
He also understands that getting better — becoming that dude — is a process and one that he got a bit of a late start on, too.
“I just came back from an 18-month rehab,” he said. “So really I’m just trying to get back on the court and just get my rhythm again.”
Not a Demotion
Jordan Poole knows better than most what it’s like to get sent down to the G League when you feel you don’t belong. By approaching it the right way, though, and using it as an opportunity to fine-tune his craft, he was able to emerge as a better player. Now, he’s a borderline All-Star with a monster contract.
Poole expects that Wiseman will take a similar approach to his own extended assignment.
“Me and James talk all the time…” Poole told reporters when it was first confirmed that Wiseman was G League-bound. “And I’m telling him, ‘It’s not a demotion, it’s not a punishment. You’re gonna get down there and shoot as many shots as you want, get as many touches as you want. Work on as many moves as you want.”
Added Poole: “James is gonna be perfect. He’s gonna be A-OK. And, me personally, I have the utmost confidence in him. He’s talented, he’s curious, he’s hungry, he’s gifted, he’s humble. Those are all the pieces you need to be successful.”