After much speculation, the Golden State Warriors have finally made a change to the starting lineup. No, it’s not the Damion Lee for Kelly Oubre Jr. swap that many fans have been clamoring for, but instead a change at the center position. Rookie James Wiseman — who started the first 16 games of the season, despite missing the bulk of training camp due to the coronavirus — will head to the bench, with respected veteran Kevon Looney replacing him.
Kerr announced the news prior to Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Warriors will start Kevon Looney tonight instead of James Wiseman.— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) January 26, 2021
From a minutes standpoint, this won’t change things all that much, since Wiseman wasn’t getting heavy starter’s minutes, and Looney was playing a big role off the bench. And Kerr maintained that Eric Paschall will continue to find playing time as a small ball 5 with the bench units.
But from a functionality standpoint, it’s a swap that figures to play a huge role. Looney is a spectacular defensive player, and while he isn’t going to make any All-Offense teams, he’s very comfortable in the Warriors system, and playing alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
Wiseman has flashed star potential, but isn’t at Looney’s comfort level yet with the players or the system. That has made itself clear with some pretty stark numbers.
Warriors with Curry and Draymond on the court together and...— Cleaning The Glass (@cleantheglass) January 25, 2021
Wiseman on the court: -15.0 per 100 possessions
Wiseman off the court: +22.5 per 100 https://t.co/6hY0QXL8sh
That’s not necessarily a knock on Wiseman. He’s the epitome of raw, and it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s in a little over his head with such a complex system and a truncated developmental path. Like Oubre, Wiseman seems to do batter with bench units where things are a little more chaotic and scattered.
With all that said, look for the Dubs to still prioritize minutes with Wiseman next to Curry and Green, albeit maybe not for a few games. The numbers may be awful now, but Golden State knows much of their future depends on turning that around.
Steve Kerr on making sure that James Wiseman gets to develop alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green: "If we hope to be a championship contender in the next couple years, those 3 guys have to learn how to play together."— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) January 24, 2021
With back-to-back embarrassing losses, it’s clear that the Dubs are shifting their focus a little bit, from developing the players and system to trying and win games.
And who can blame them? That is, after all, the point.