As Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman strengthened his game in the G League, one rival Western Conference coach questioned if the former No. 2 overall draft pick has what it takes to play center for the defending NBA champion Warriors.
“He has looked (like he’s) in over his head,” the anonymous coach told Heavy Sports reporter Sean Deveney.
The coach argued that the team could not have him on the floor with Draymond Green since they were too easy to guard together. The coach asserted they could not have Wiseman in a leading role with the second unit because he was not good enough to lead.
“What do you do with him? I don’t think they know, so he is going to be down there (in the G League) because at least you know he will be on the floor,” the coach said.
Following the Warriors’ impressive blowout victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr announced that Wiseman would begin an extended stint in the G League with the team’s affiliate in Santa Cruz starting Tuesday. He played his first game on Saturday against the South Bay Lakers. It was Wiseman’s third G League appearance after playing two games with the Santa Cruz Warriors last season.
Even after returning to the court for the first time since April 2021 following a torn meniscus, the 7-foot-1 center struggled in his return. Against the Spurs, Wiseman played just nine minutes and did not appear in Golden State’s previous three games.
The 21-year-old’s third season has yet to work out as planned, despite playing just 39 games this season. Although Wiseman did not seem concerned about those who doubted whether he would live up to expectations, he told Deveney he was not listening to them.
“I have been through a lot of hard times,” Wiseman said.
“I have seen the negative side of social media in terms of myself. I don’t entertain that stuff anymore because it is negative, and it is all gossip. I just focus on my priorities, getting in the gym and (getting) better, working on stuff so I can be ready for the games.”
“It’s not going to be one game and bring him back,” Kerr said Monday. “We want to give him ten straight days, something like that, and then come back.”
However, the anonymous Western Conference coach asserted that Wiseman has a long way to go before becoming the big man the Warriors need. For Wiseman, his trip to Santa Cruz may be a turning point, as it once was for Jordan Poole, whether he needs to learn new skills or unlearn old ones.
As far as Wiseman is concerned, he is up for the challenge, that’s for sure.
“I can handle it,” Wiseman said. “I don’t think it was too much when I was a rookie. I feel like in terms of my inexperience, in terms of playing the NBA game, it probably was a little too much. But I feel like I can do anything, though. I am confident in myself.”
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