James Wiseman had a lot on his plate in the first half of his rookie season.
The Warriors selected him No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, over a year after he played his third and final NCAA game. Wiseman told reporters in a video conference Thursday night after Golden State's loss to the Phoenix Suns that his most important lessons included becoming more vocal on defense and more patient when posting up on offense.
Still, the 19-year-old admitted he had a difficult time navigating some choppy waters in his transition to the NBA.
"I ain't gonna lie, it's been hard, man, especially for me," Wiseman said. "But I'm staying mentally strong. I had a lot of ups and downs in my first half of my rookie year, but I've learned a lot as well. ... I'm just containing myself, and just trying to stay strong and just keep learning every day."
Wiseman didn't play a minute in the preseason after testing positive for the coronavirus, yet his rookie season started well enough. He was the Warriors' starting center on opening night, scoring 19 points against the Brooklyn Nets in his NBA debut.
The next month was a bit of a rollercoaster, with Wiseman eventually losing his place in the starting lineup to veteran Kevon Looney. Just as he began finding a groove off the bench, the rookie sprained his left wrist and missed 11 games.
Wiseman returned to play in each of the Warriors' final six games before the All-Star break, scoring in double digits in three straight wins then averaging 7.3 points per game over their three losses. Coach Steve Kerr put Wiseman back in the starting lineup Thursday, and he told reporters before the loss that Wiseman is going to play more after the break.
“Whether he starts coming out of the [All-Star] break or not, we definitely need to get him more time," Kerr said.
Despite the difficult stretches, Wiseman said the first half was "great" and he can't wait "to learn more." But like many teenagers who've spent an extended amount of time away from home, he's looking forward to family time and home-cooked meals over the next few days.
"It's going to be a great break," Wiseman said. "I can't wait to just get back to my mom, and just have good laughs with her. And she'll cook me some food and stuff, so I can't wait for that."