Warriors

Lee cites Giannis when discussing Wiseman's path to stardom

Warriors
James Wiseman

It's easy to forget that James Wiseman still is only 19 years old and only has played 27 games between college and the NBA since graduating high school.

The Warriors rookie has had impressive sequences followed by teaching moments. Teammate Damion Lee just tries to be there for the rookie center, making sure he knows that success at the NBA level is not linear. Lee points to a certain two-time MVP as an example.

"It's honestly tough for me to put myself in someone like his shoes knowing what his past 18 to 24 months have been like," Lee told reporters Tuesday. "But my biggest thing with James is just continue to instill confidence, continue to pump confidence into him. He knows that he's an NBA player and to be as young as he is and as talented as he is, he wants to be one of the best players ever.

"It's just those constant reminders that it's always like this [making up and down motion with hand]. Nobody's line to greatness is a straight line. So everyone is going to go through their own journey. You can even look at Giannis [Antetokounmpo] when he was a rookie, you know, what did he average? Eight points a game? And then continued to work on his game and then second year blossomed, third year blossomed. It's just a matter of seeing what guys have done before you and James understands that and he understands that no one is ever going to be perfect.

"There's been no perfect basketball player ever. As long as you continue to go through your journey and he has some of the greatest vets, guys that have been through those title runs and stuff for the past five, six years in his corner that will continue to instill confidence in him. I'm never going to be someone that's going to take credit for anyone's success. I'm just someone that's a big brother to him, if he ever wants to talk I'm just a sounding board for him."

 

Lee's comments echo what forward Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, told Wiseman about how to become a star alongside the "legends" he plays with on the Warriors.

"Just keep playing hard, playing smart and keep wanting to get better," Wiggins said. "He's around great guys, around Steph and Draymond, around legends. So he's going to learn a lot. It's a process. There's a lot of up and downs in that rookie season but once you find yourself and become confident the sky is going to be the limit for him. There's so much he can do and how raw he is -- the stuff he does, he doesn't even know he's doing it. So when he figures it all out and becomes who he's supposed to be, he's going to be a superstar."

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The sky truly is the limit for Wiseman, and the Warriors believe he, like Antetokounmpo, will blossom into a transcendent talent. That's why they were so excited he fell to them at No. 2 in the draft, and that's why they have no reservations about passing on LaMelo Ball despite the young guard's hot start for the Charlotte Hornets.

Wiseman already has made a big leap in 24 NBA games. He has sequences where he dominates the floor on raw talent alone, which should excite the Warriors about his ability to make a Giannis-like jump in Year 2 or Year 3.

What Wiseman has been able to do in his short NBA career has been nothing short of impressive and should scare the rest of a league that has taken unbridled joy in the Warriors' fall from grace. The rookie center is figuring things out faster than expected.

There will continue to be bumps in the road, but stardom might not be that far off for Wiseman if he continues on this accelerated trajectory.

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