Warriors

Warriors having Wiseman study film of NBA stars to emulate

Warriors
James Wiseman

Ask any young basketball player whose game they try to model their own after, they usually have one or two names off the top of their head. These are players they have studied over the years, ogled at their skillsets and wish to resemble on the court.

They are guys who young players would try to gain as much insight as possible into how they do what they do, if given the opportunity to chat.

If Steve Kerr could choose one player for his rookie, James Wiseman, to sit down with, it would be Kevin Garnett because of Garnett's physicality, defense and that, like Wiseman, he played limited games in college.

Wiseman agrees Garnett is a good model. But Wiseman has his own list of players to study, assembled by Warriors assistant coach Theo Robertson. 

"It ranges," Roberston told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke on who he has Wiseman watch. "Myles Turner is one in terms of his defensive pick-and-roll coverage, we've watched a lot of Anthony Davis, we've watched a lot of Giannis [Antetokounmpo], we watch guys like Daniel Theis in Boston, we watch [Nikola] Jokic. Depending on the skillset, depending on the day we're trying to add any and everything that makes sense for him and his game.

"He's just been a sponge in terms of watching different people, understanding what they do to make themselves great or make the game easier."

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It makes sense that Robertson has Wiseman watch a player such as Turner. One stat that explains why is that Turner was one of just five players last season to average at least two blocks and one made 3-pointer per game. Both of those -- blocking shots and shooting from a distance -- are skills Wiseman has already displayed in his short career. 

If he can become a big man who can consistently do that each night, it would put him in a special group of centers. Bigs who tend to have success shooting usually struggle to defend on the other end. 

This brings up the main reason Robertson has Wiseman watch Turner: his defense. Turner's +3.0 on the defensive box plus-minus is tied for the best in the NBA, and his 4.7 blocks per game are also league-leading. He's been successful at getting stops against a driving opponent when rotating from the weak side, and has gotten comfortable at defending both ball-handlers and screeners.

He's used as the second line of defense when the Pacers' primary perimeter defenders get beat. But Turner has gotten comfortable defending multiple positions and isn't afraid for mismatch switches. 

For a young player such as Wiseman, these are all important attributes to have in order to become a top-tier defender. In the Warriors' win against the Detroit Pistons, which was Wiseman's best defensive game so far, he was already rotating early and finding where he needed to be on the backside of the play as the primary rim protector. By studying Turner, this will become more second nature to the rookie, in addition to adding some of the other things that make Turner one of the best defenders in the NBA.

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Boston's Theis is another defensive-minded player for Wiseman to model. Theis has a strong ability to contest opponents vertically at the rim to get a stop, something Wiseman will have to learn in order to stay out of foul trouble. The way Theis defends isn't spectacular, but he executes the Celtics' defensive game-plan to a "T" and is always active on that end of the court. 

As for the other players Robertson has Wiseman watch, well, it never hurts to learn from three of the best bigs in the league in Davis, Antetokounmpo and Jokic. Robertson says he also has Wiseman watch film of Kevin Durant. Each player is elite at what they do, whether it is ball-handling, defending or passing. 

The special thing about Davis, Antetokounmpo, Jokic and Durant is that they can all be used as a traditional center, a large forward, or even as a guard. Knowing that Wiseman can shoot 3-pointers, as well as dominate in the paint, the Warriors should want him to learn how to utilize all of his offensive versatility as best he can.

 

But it takes time to properly hone in those skills, and right now, the Warriors want Wiseman to focus more on getting to the basket than standing on the perimeter. But shooting from distance will be something Wiseman does more in the future, and when he does, it'll open up his game. 

It's imperative that Wiseman continues to be a student of the game as he adjusts to playing at the NBA level and finds his identity in the league. As he develops, Robertson is making sure he has plenty of inspiration to full from.