Young Warriors Big Man Sounds Off After Dominant Debut

James Wiseman

James Wiseman looks on during a Golden State Warriors Summer League game.

After close to 18 months away from an NBA court, Golden State Warriors big man James Wiseman showed little signs of rust in the team’s preseason start to its title defense.

Wiseman flashed his athleticism and made a number of key plays as the Warriors defeated the Washington Wizards to open the preseason schedule on September 30. Wiseman had been slowly working his way back from a knee injury that cut short his rookie season and an extended rehab that wiped out his second year, and gave the team an encouraging sign on Friday.

Wiseman Leads the Way in Warriors Win

Wiseman had not played in an NBA game since April 10, 2021, when he suffered a torn meniscus in his knee and began what became a long and grueling rehab. Though he was able to take the court in Summer League and showed flashes of strong play, Friday’s game in Japan marked the first time that he played against a full NBA roster since his rookie year.

Wiseman looked like the athletic star the Warriors hoped they were getting with they used the No. 2 overall pick to land him in 2020. In just 24 minutes of playing time, Wiseman led the team in scoring with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including five dunks.

After the game, Wiseman said he was trying to keep it simple in his first NBA game in front of fans. Wiseman’s rookie season was played amid much tighter COVID-19 restrictions, including empty arenas.

“I just went out there and played my game. I wasn’t trying to do something that was outside my boundaries. Just keep the game simple and be myself,” Wiseman said, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

Wiseman Ready to Contribute This Season

Wiseman’s rookie season brought a mixed bag of results as he flashed some high-level potential while also struggling at times to fit into the team’s intricate motion offense. Prior to the start of this season, Wiseman said he wants to become a better all-around player, executing on plays both big and small.

“Really just a different goal,” Wiseman said at the team’s media day, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “Just to really set hard screens. Probably work through the system, in terms of working on my DHOs and different stuff like that, like executing plays.

“I’m really working on small stuff that’s going to translate to the NBA, that’s going to translate to playing with the real guys.”

Wiseman could have more help off the court in his development this season. Veteran Andre Iguodala, who served as a mentor both to Wiseman and the team’s other budding young stars, announced last week that he would be returning to the Warriors for his 19th NBA season. Iguodala had been on the fence about whether he would retire, but said he felt good enough to come back for what he said would be a final season.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala will continue to work closely with the team’s young players in the upcoming season.

“We have so many young guys,” Kerr said. “They need coaching, they need mentoring. And Andre’s the best there is at that. And he loves working with the younger guys.”

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