There are a lot of things that can be learned from Summer League, but it’s important to not put too much stock into stats or even overall performance. It’s simply part of the process.
I learned that the hard way at my first Summer League, when one of the first performances I witnessed was Furkan Korkmaz dropping 40 — he was a star in the making, I assumed.
Golden State Warriors fans know this. They saw Anthony Randolph win Summer League MVP. They saw Steph Curry pour in a fair number of points, but not as many as Randolph. Or as many as Anthony Morrow. Or as many as Cartier Martin.
But we all need the reminder from time to time, because it’s easy to get too high or too low as you watch a player either destroy lesser competition, or struggle as they work on new things rather than simply trying to win.
James Wiseman did neither. He wasn’t a standout star, but he didn’t struggle. He just played, and solidly at that.
Here are his stats from Vegas:
Game 1: 20 minutes, 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 7 fouls, 5-for-7 shooting, 1-for-1 threes
Game 2: 21 minutes, 6 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 3-for-9 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0-for 1 free throws
Game 3: 21 minutes, 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 4-for-6 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 5-for-8 free throws
Game 4: 19 minutes, 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 5-for-13 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 1-for-2 free throws
There’s one stat there that really matters. It’s not the decent scoring totals, or the lovely block count. It’s not the shooting splits, or the high foul count.
It’s the games played. Four of them. Four consecutive games. All with about 20 minutes played.
That’s the only meaningful stat for a player who appeared in 39 games to start the 2020-21 season, and hadn’t played in a game since then.
It’s important, and not something we should be taking for granted. But don’t take my word for it — take the word of Dr. Nirav Pandya, a UCSF orthopedic surgeon who uses his twitter for a lot of health-related Warriors commentary, and regularly appears on 95.7 The Game.
Four straight games for Wiseman is a very positive sign for his knee.— Dr. Nirav Pandya, M.D. (@DrNiravPandya) July 18, 2022
Truthfully, this is the best development to come out of Summer League. Is it as exciting as if Jonathan Kuminga averaged 30 points per game, or Moses Moody shot 70% on threes, or Patrick Baldwin Jr. played and looked NBA-ready?
But is it more important? Yes.
Wiseman is, at this moment, healthy. It doesn’t mean he’ll stay healthy. But you can’t stay healthy unless you get healthy first.
And right now he’s healthy.