You wouldn’t know James Wiseman is a teenager who spent less than a full academic year in college when you hear him speak in front of the media.
The Warriors rookie is well-spoken and clearly has a level of maturity beyond his years, which he’ll need as his role within his new team grows.
Wiseman scored 18 points and blocked three shots while connecting on three of his four 3-point attempts, but the Warriors again were blown away in a 138-99 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
With just a three-game college experience followed by an abbreviated training camp, Wiseman was expected to be brought along slowly, with coach Steve Kerr saying during the preseason that the rookie would see around 15-20 minutes a night.
But as new addition Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins continue to struggle out of the gate for the Warriors, Wiseman has logged 24 and 25 minutes, respectively, and been a factor both offensively and patrolling the paint on defense. That maturity breeds confidence, and no aspect of Wiseman’s strong start has shocked him.
“I’m not surprised at all, because I put in work,” Wiseman told reporters after Friday’s game. “I just go out there and give it my full effort, and even though I’m a rookie coming to the league, I’m most definitely making mistakes, we’ll have ups and downs, but it’s OK, our team, we’re gonna stick together.”
Wiseman became the first Warriors rookie to score 15 points in each of his first two games since Chris Mullin, and Kerr told reporters after the game that Wiseman’s minutes will increase as his stamina improves.
“The biggest thing these first couple games was just to get him out onto the floor for as long as he could take it,” Kerr said. “As he gets more comfortable with his conditioning following the absence, his minutes are going to bump up. This season is about giving him the experience that he needs to grow as a player so that we can get better as a team and he can be one of our building blocks.”
Any time a player is selected No. 2 overall in the draft, he’s expected to be a foundational piece of the organization going forward. But given the team’s plodding start to the season on both ends of the floor, Wiseman likely will become more of a focal point in the Warriors’ offense in his rookie season. He’s eager to do so, but also has complete faith in Kerr and the Warriors’ coaching staff to put him in the best position to succeed.
“I feel that I can play more because I take care of my body outside of basketball,” Wiseman said. “Other than everything else, I feel really fine, I feel that I can play more minutes, but I’m doing whatever coach tells me to. And I just want to go out there and give it my full effort, stay humble and just learn every day.”
Kerr’s confidence in Wiseman was evident from the start of Friday’s game, as the big man matched up one-on-one with reigning two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on defense.
The game is starting to slow down for him, evidenced by his three blocks in Friday’s loss.
He's already a starter, but as Steph Curry continues to find his groove in a lineup rife with new faces and Draymond Green works his way back into the fold after a limited training camp, Wiseman might have some nights where he is the No. 2, maybe even No. 1 option on the offensive end. Wiseman is enjoying getting a feel for the NBA, and players around the league are taking notice of Wiseman’s presence in the paint.
Wiseman certainly is a major piece of the Warriors’ long-term plans, but he’ll need that mental fortitude he’s developed as he becomes a major piece of Golden State’s short-term plans and postseason hopes.