Warriors

Wiseman impresses Kerr, will start 'before too long'

Warriors

It's only been a few practices, but it's clear to Steve Kerr that James Wiseman is the Warriors' present and future at the center position.

Wiseman scrimmaged on a team with Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Eric Paschall on Saturday. Kerr was once again impressed by the No. 2 overall pick.

"James practiced fully today," Kerr told reporters Saturday. "His conditioning looked really good. I was very impressed, given that he had only the one 12-minute scrimmage the other day. This was a full team scrimmage. We went two full quarters. He played with the starters so I could get a look at him with Steph and Andrew and Kelly. He had a really good day. He just looked like he picked a lot of things up in the last few days. He's progressing nicely. I'm very excited about James and he should be ready to go Tuesday night."

Wiseman is expected to play Tuesday when the Warriors open the season in Brooklyn against the Nets. Kerr isn't sure if Wiseman will start in the opener, but it's clear it will be Wiseman's job soon.

"James is going to be our starting center before too long," Kerr said. "It might happen Tuesday. But clearly, he is our long-term starting center and when we feel he's ready for that then we will put him out there and then it's a matter of minutes and how long he can play. For me as a coach and my staff, it's let's give him the experience of seeing the different pictures that are going to be in front of him.

 

"Every NBA game for a young player is filled with these snapshots that go a million miles an hour, and then as you play, those snapshots slow down quite a bit because you recognize the pattern that's in that snapshot. Our job is to help him recognize those patterns, realize his responsibilities in those patterns and get him comfortable executing and we'll do it one step at a time."

Wiseman was unable to practice during the first week of training camp and did not play in any of the Warriors' three preseason games. He did some good and bad things in his first scrimmage, but his talent has been evident to Kerr early on.

"I think one of the most exciting things for us about James is his intelligence, his willingness to learn and his ability to absorb lessons," Kerr said. "So from three days ago to now, the game looked smoother. His game looked smoother to me. He recognized patterns, he understood what we were trying to accomplish and even though there was a ton of energy, there was less wild energy like there was the first day. There was more of an awareness of what was happening. As I said, we're excited about his talent. But to go with that, we're excited about his maturity, his work ethic and his desire to learn.

"So it's very exciting for all of us. It should be exciting for our fans but I will again reiterate: It's one thing to scrimmage and it's another thing to be out on the floor against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets. We have to temper our expectations and bring him along at a pace that will allow him to develop well."

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Kerr said the plan is to play Wiseman in short bursts initially so that he can absorb the NBA game and learn. During the scrimmage Saturday, Kerr had Wiseman play with the first team so the rookie could run some pick-and-rolls with Curry and see what it's like to play alongside the two-time NBA MVP.

While Wiseman should be a full go for the opener against the Nets, Draymond Green is doubtful after suffering a mild muscle strain in his right foot.

The Warriors could hardly contain their excitement when Wiseman fell to them at No. 2 in the NBA draft. Wiseman has all the tools to be a once-in-a-generation talent for the Warriors, one who could take the baton from Curry when he's ready to pass it on. It will take some time for Wiseman to get comfortable with NBA speed, but it's apparent he will be an integral part to any success the Warriors have this season. He has the athleticism and instincts to be a difference-maker on defense and can be a weapon in transition and in the pick-and-roll game with Curry.

 

Kerr wants to temper expectations for Wiseman, but the hype train is already starting to leave the station. It's clear the Warriors' future starts now.