All aboard the James Wiseman hype train.
Expectations are high for the 7-footer selected by the Warriors with the No. 2 overall pick earlier this year. Before Wiseman started at center in his NBA debut against the Brooklyn Nets, Charles Barkley singled him out as the best player among the top 10 picks in the 2020 draft.
“He’s really athletic, he can play defense, he can run the floor,” Barkley said before the game on TNT's "Inside the NBA."
“I think he’s gonna be a beast. I think he’s gonna get me 17 [points] and 12 [rebounds] tonight.”
How about that -- Chuck showing love for the Dubs after all those years of drinking the Hate-o-rade. But is it a kiss of death? Barkley’s “GUAR-AN-TEED” predictions have been anything but reliable.
For what it’s worth, fellow host and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal offered a more conservative opening night prediction for Wiseman.
“Nope,” O’Neal said. “I’m gonna go with 12 and 6.”
But Barkley wasn’t done hyping the Dubs, and continued to heap praise on the front office for the moves they made this offseason.
“First of all, give my shoutout to [President of Basketball Operations] Bob Myers,” Barkley said. “Man, they went out and got Kelly Oubre. I think once they get Oubre and [Draymond Green] together with Steph [Curry] -- great pickup. Again, I’m a big Kelly Oubre fan.”
Kenny Smith also weighed in on the future of the Warriors’ frontcourt, saying Green’s imminent return from a foot injury will help Wiseman. Green is something of a player-coach when he’s out on the floor and has already been yelling at Wiseman during practice.
“I think Wiseman will benefit when Draymond comes back,” Smith said. “Draymond is a point forward, he facilitates things, and then Draymond will take the tougher defending. That will relieve a lot of pressure off [Wiseman].”
Dub Nation isn’t alone in its interest for Wiseman’s rookie campaign. The 19-year-old will be the subject of conversation all season long as the Warriors try to groom their franchise big man.
Wiseman made some athletic plays, including a dunk for his first basket, en route to an impressive 19-point, 6-rebound debut. He scored seven straight points for the Warriors during a nice fourth-quarter spurt, but the team was well on its way to a 125-99 defeat at that point. Still, it was an encouraging first game for Wiseman, especially when you consider he only played three contests in college.