Usually, when a player is picked second overall in the NBA Draft, he is expected to come in and be the face of the franchise. Of course, the teams that wind up picking No. 2 are usually at the bottom of the NBA’s pecking order, which isn’t the case with the Golden State Warriors.
The Dubs took Memphis product James Wiseman second in the 2020 NBA Draft, but the organization wants to get back into the playoffs after using the 2019-20 season as a reset. Golden State went an NBA-worst 15-50, which enabled it to select the highly-regarded center high up in the draft.
Wiseman is raw. The 19-year-old has all of the physical tools to develop into an All-Star as a pro, but the Warriors have the luxury of being patient with him. With Stephen Curry on the roster and Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, plus Kelly Oubre Jr. serving as his main supporting cast, Wiseman won’t have to come in and be the face of the franchise.
So what are realistic expectations for Wiseman? The 7’1 center has the athleticism to come in and be an immediate difference-maker on the defensive end. He averaged 3.0 blocks per game during his short time with the Tigers, but you can see he will be an effective rim-protector at the pro-level.
Wiseman needs to work on his positioning as a team defender, but head coach Steve Kerr and his staff will have plenty of time to help him improve in that aspect.
On the offensive end, Wiseman will more than likely be the fourth-or-fifth option for Golden State. He won’t create much for his teammates, and with the Warriors wanting to play faster this season, don’t expect him to get too many touches on the block as well.
Wiseman’s strength is finishing around the rim. He will gobble up lobs and do well at creating second-chance opportunities with his offensive rebounding abilities. He will also be useful in the pick-and-roll where Curry and co. can find him over the top of the defense.
Here are the rookie stats from the last big man selected No. 2 overall.
Marvin Bagley III (2018): 25.3 minutes, 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks.
Bagley played on a Sacramento Kings team that finished ninth in the Western Conference at 39-43 and put up good numbers in limited minutes.
It will be interesting to see how Kerr uses Wiseman to start the season. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reports that Golden State was interested in free-agent centers Marc Gasol and Aaron Baynes, but each signed elsewhere. With only Wiseman, Kevon Looney and Marquese Chriss on the roster, the Dubs’ interest in Gasol and Baynes shows they might not be comfortable with their stable of centers.
Training camp is right around the corner, and we should get a better idea of where Wiseman is at in his development once the Warriors begin their scrimmages. Curry has said he will be hard on the 19-year-old to get him to up to speed.
I think Kerr will start Looney and bring Wiseman off the bench to begin the season. Wiseman should play similar minutes to Bagley in his rookie season at 20-25 per game. If Wiseman can put up anywhere between eight-and-10 points and rebounds per game while being an above-average rim-protector, it will be a big win for Golden State.
What are you expecting from Wiseman during his rookie season?