The Warriors, coaches and players, have spent the past few weeks being particularly careful on the subject of James Wiseman. Even as the big man approaches his expected return to the NBA, perhaps this week, caution signs remain in place.
Their message is clear: James might help us, but do not expect immense impact.
Wiseman’s assignment with G League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors illustrates why. Rust remains a factor.
In his third and potentially final dress rehearsal for a return to the NBA, Wiseman delivered an uneven performance Tuesday in a 118-103 loss to the Agua Caliente Clippers in Ontario, Ca.
One thing the Sea Dubs did not do is play through Wiseman. There was no force-feeding him, and at times he was virtually ignored. So much so that he was whistled for a three-second violation when none of his teammates fed him, despite a mismatch on the block.
Here are three observations of Wiseman’s game in which he produced 15 points (7-of-12 shooting), nine rebounds, three blocks and was minus-12 in 21 minutes:
This is where the NBA Warriors are placing the biggest spotlight.
Golden State Warriors
Wiseman had an auspicious start. When Clippers guard Xavier Moon dribbled past Sea Dubs guard Kalob Ledoux, creating a path to the rim, Wiseman rotated from the weak side and swatted the shot. More impressive, he recovered the ball and flung an outlet pass that led to a transition basket.
Though the rest of his first half generally wasn’t very effective, he got appreciably better in the second half.
He grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in 10 second-half minutes. He seemed to warm to the task of being a towering presence in the paint.
The NBA Warriors want to see discipline, timing, rebounding and an ability to read and react. The hope is that Wiseman can give them a measure of rim protection. This was hit and miss, and it’s fair to say he could benefit from more G League action.
His timing still needs work, maybe a lot of work.
Wiseman committed six turnovers, and three of them seemed to be a direct result of having so little competitive repetition. He fumbled a couple passes – which weren’t completely accurate – and traveled once on the low block while trying to decide on a move toward the rim.
He got better in the second half, at one point making four consecutive shots, including a nice left-handed baby hook shot from a couple feet in front of the free throw line. After 1-of-4 shooting first half, he was 6-of-8 after intermission.
The NBA Warriors need Wiseman to set screens, which he does no better than average. They need him to be a dive man and lob-catcher, which he’s ready to do right now. But he’s still seeking the timing and rhythm required to make an impact in the league.
Any residual effect from procedures on his left knee doesn’t show. Wiseman runs the floor like a gazelle with giraffe length.
Generally, though, he started to slow down after more than five or six minutes. This is not a major issue insofar as he won’t play extended minutes in the NBA anytime soon.
Unlike the comebacks of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, both of whom will start and eventually see big minutes, Wiseman won’t play extended minutes in the NBA anytime soon.
His minutes likely will stay in the 12-to-18 range, not unlike the rotation of JaVale McGee four years ago.
Though he has built up his body, he’s still learning how to use his physicality to his advantage. He was the biggest man on the floor, but he didn’t impose his strength. If he can’t in the G League, he won’t be able to in the NBA.