How Wiseman's skills improved between last NCAA game, draft


James Wiseman's preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft was much longer than most of his peers.

While every collegiate prospect this year dealt with the coronavirus pandemic wiping away the end of the NCAA season in March and delaying the draft nearly five months, Wiseman, 19, declared for the draft nearly a year before it ultimately was held. Wiseman left Memphis -- while serving a 12-game NCAA suspension for "recruiting inducements" his family received -- on Dec. 19, 2019, and the Warriors selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft 335 days later on Nov. 18.

His game has changed a lot during that time.

"It's way different," Wiseman said Thursday in a video conference call with reporters. "My body has matured tremendously. I'm being more vocal on the defensive end, and also I'm just learning, because the NBA and college is way different. So I'm just learning the different processes and the different fundamental skills to build my game and just develop my game as a whole."

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Wiseman played pickup games with NBA veterans over the summer, including Houston Rockets point guard John Wall. The 7-foot-1 center got his first real introduction to the NBA this week, though, joining the Warriors for the first time in training camp Monday and scrimmaging for the first time Wednesday. He won't get much acclimation beyond that, as coach Steve Kerr ruled Wiseman out for Golden State's preseason finale.


The rookie, conceivably, could get his truest taste of the league when the regular season begins on Dec. 22 and the Warriors face the Brooklyn Nets, led by Kevin Durant, on national television. Wiseman said his summer pickup games helped him understand what to expect playing in the NBA, but the speed of a real game is something he'll have to get used to.

The most common advice he has received from his teammates is centered on that adjustment.

"Being more patient," Wiseman said, noting that Draymond Green has made an effort to take the rookie under his wing. "I have to be way more patient, but I'm learning [about] just being more patient with the ball, making sure that I survey the floor first ... and really just let the play run out thoroughly instead of just rushing to something."

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Wiseman's eagerness has impressed his teammates and coaches, and Green told reporters it's exactly what he wants to see from a young teammate. It's difficult to fault the teenager's excitement, as he went almost a year between declaring for the draft and actually practicing with the Warriors.

In Wiseman's estimation, his game evolved a lot during that time. Now, it's on the Warriors to keep that development going.