Were you surprised to see James Wiseman play less than 18 minutes in Sunday’s 117-111 loss against the Atlanta Hawks?
So was he.
The Warriors rookie shared his candid thoughts Monday on Steve Kerr’s decision to limit his playing time despite a hot start against the Hawks.
“I was very surprised,” Wiseman said in a video conference with reporters. “I just knew, I was kinda in the air with everything. I guess it was just coach’s gameplan. He was trying to figure something out. But I was kinda confused. I can’t lie.”
Wiseman established his presence Sunday with eight points and two rebounds in the initial 8:45 of the game, making explosive plays like these:
Then he didn’t play the rest of the first half. Wiseman played the initial 8:54 of the second half, grabbing three rebounds and going 0-for-3 from the field in that stretch. Then he was benched again the rest of the game.
“The time that I had, I thought I did really well,” Wiseman said. “I did my job.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was a function of the night’s frontcourt matchups and he was happy with the way Draymond Green and Kevon Looney were playing. For what it’s worth, Green posted a plus-9, Wiseman posted a plus-3 and Looney posted a minus-8 for the evening.
It’s refreshing to see an honest answer from Wiseman regarding his limited minutes, though. Many players, especially 20-year-old rookies like him, often might not acknowledge the feeling of being benched despite a hot start. Not to mention he is the No. 2 overall pick and all the expectations that come with it.
Wiseman's production has waned in his so-so rookie season. Through 36 games played (24 starts), Wiseman is averaging 11.4 points on 51 percent shooting, with 5.8 rebounds and one block per game. The Warriors know he will need some time to grow, especially to get up to speed on the defensive side of the ball.
Kerr repeatedly has preached patience, noting Monday that Wiseman could be headed to the Summer League for further development this offseason. But it’s odd to see Wiseman get his fewest minutes since March 11, when he was benched three quarters for disciplinary reasons due to a missed COVID-19 test during the All-Star break.
The Warriors are still hanging on for their play-in tournament hopes and need to juggle winning with development, but Wiseman can only get better if he’s on the floor.