James Wiseman offered one opinion about his performance during his rookie season with the Warriors, and I gave another. We addressed this discrepancy like reasonable adults.
With a debate.
The question posed to Wiseman this week, after a rehab session, was to give himself a grade for his work, and he was ready with an answer.
“I’d say probably a B-plus, I guess,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Probably a B-plus, just because due to injuries and stuff. We get injured. That’s part of the game.
“But I’d say I did pretty good. I had a lot of ups and downs, but most of them were positive and I actually learned a lot this year.”
I then asked Wiseman what would have been required to give himself an A.
“Just not getting injured,” he said. “Just to play the whole season, and get as much experience (as possible). I’d most definitely say a B-plus.”
This was when the 7-foot-1 center opened the debate.
“What would you say?” he asked.
“I’d give you a B,” I answered.
There was no protest from Wiseman, perhaps because the grades were not dramatically different. I couldn’t give him the “plus” because I feel a “B” was fair enough. I had my reasons.
“I say that because injuries played such a factor,” I explained. “You were in and out (of the lineup). If it wasn’t injury, it was Covid. It was always something. The minute you got some momentum, it was like, boom, something else would happen.
“There were some A moments, and there were some B moments and a few C moments. But, on the whole, I’d say a solid B."
Depending on the source, Wiseman’s first NBA season was an abject failure or an encouraging beginning. Or, and this is fair, incomplete, which would explain why his name did not appear on even one Rookie of the Year ballot.
Those disappointed cite his defensive shortcomings, his shot selection and his difficulty establishing cohesion with Steph Curry, who is the center of team’s offensive universe.
Those unworried note Wiseman’s weaknesses while also citing his age -- he didn’t turn 20 until March 30 -- his shinier moments and general production.
Put me in the incomplete camp. I don’t know if Wiseman’s destiny is as a backup center or an All-Star, and it’s absurd, at least for me, to reach any firm conclusions about a player whose post-high school career consists of three college games, a rumor of training camp and 39 NBA games within a 72-game season.
Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, with per-36-minute totals of 19.3 and 9.7. More than respectable. Which is why I didn’t dare drop him below B.
“When I looked at your numbers and what you did (in comparison to) some of the other young big men coming into the league,” I said, “you did OK.”
Comp A: Kevin Garnett. He averaged 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds, with per-36 totals of 13.1 and 7.9. Garnett entered the league at 19, with no college experience. He is a 15-time All-Star and this year entered the Hall of Fame.
Comp B: Anthony Davis: He averaged 13.5 and 8.2, with per-36 totals of 16.9 and 10.2. He entered the league at 19, after 40 games at the University of Kentucky. He is an eight-time All-Star.
Comp C: Jermaine O’Neal: He averaged 4.1 and 2.8, with per-36 totals of 14.5 and 9.7. He entered the league at 18, with no college experience. (His numbers declined slightly in Year 2). He is a six-time All-Star who spent his final season with the Warriors.
Comp D: Tyson Chandler. He averaged 6.1 and 4.8, with per-36 totals of 11.3 and 8.9. Entering the NBA at 19, with no college experience, he has one Defensive Player of the Year award, one All-NBA selection and three times earned All-Defensive team honors.
Comp E: DeAndre Jordan: He averaged 4.3 and 4.5, with per-36 totals of 10.6 and 11.1. He entered the NBA at age 20, after 35 games at Texas A&M. He’s a three-time All-NBA selection and twice was named to the All-Defensive team.
Five decorated big men, no duds. Their NBA careers ranging from very good to elite. And Wiseman has peeped the stats.
“I see their numbers and I’d say that I had a better rookie year than they did,” he said. “I most definitely say that I gave myself a B-plus.
“But I feel like it’s a lot of stuff that I can work on. But I’m just getting better at that. Taking it day by day.”
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Wiseman barely is out of the NBA womb and spent the season bouncing in and out of the lineup. He was a wonder one minute, a chore the next. He is very unfinished.
I respect his B-plus. I even understand it. But I’m comfortable with my B.