Warriors

Wiseman's vast potential was on display throughout NBA debut

Warriors

Well, they didn't get the "W," but aside from that, the Warriors have to be pleased with James Wiseman's NBA debut. The No. 2 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft was thrown right into the fire, starting Golden State's season opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, and he showed several aspects of his game that made him such an enticing prospect.

One thing is abundantly clear: Wiseman isn't afraid. The 19-year-old was a late arrival at training camp and didn't play in the preseason at all, but in playing his first game in over a year, the moment wasn't too big for him. On several occasions, Wiseman went right after the Nets, and though he didn't always get the desired results, his aggressiveness is a tremendous sign.

He scored his first basket less than one minute into the game and finished the first half with a line of seven points, four rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes of action. His first career dunk was exciting, but there was another play in the first half that was a better indicator of his vast potential.

During the second quarter, Wiseman stepped out to the 3-point line and received a pass from Steph Curry. He then faked the dribble hand-off and dove towards the rim, taking two lengthy strides down the left side of the key before deftly laying it in off the glass. With his size and length, that's a nearly impossible shot to defend, and you can bet we'll be seeing more and more of it as his rookie season continues.

 

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Wiseman seemed to get more confident as the game wore on. In the second half, he had the ball on the wing, with only Nets center DeAndre Jordan between him and the rim. Wiseman took Jordan on the dribble, got into the paint and launched a jump hook that had no chance of being blocked. It banked off the backboard and missed, but that's beside the point. He wasn't intimidated by one of the better rim protectors of the last decade. He didn't settle for a 3-point shot. He went right at Jordan, and was fully in control.

But that isn't to say he can't be a threat from the perimeter. Wiseman attempted -- and missed -- only one 3-pointer in his limited collegiate career, and he matched that total in his NBA debut. But this time, he drilled it. In the fourth quarter, he got a bounce pass at the top of the arc, let it fly and hit nothing but net.

On the Warriors' next possession, Wiseman made a 21-footer from the wing. And on Golden State's next trip down the court, he threw down an alley-oop from Jordan Poole coming out of a pick-and-roll.

Wiseman finished the game with 19 points (7-of-13 FG), six rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes. He wasn't credited with a block, but he altered several shots with his enormous length. He converted only four of his eight free-throw attempts, and while you'd like to see him hit a higher clip, that too was a promising sign -- specifically due to what came before one of his trips to the charity stripe.

In the first half, Wiseman outreached Jordan for a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast before crashing into a Nets defender and being called for a charge. It was a glimpse at his dynamic skill set, regardless of the foul. But in the second half, Wiseman got a chance at redemption. He gathered a loose ball near mid-court and continued straight to the rim, but rather than power through the lone Brooklyn defender in front of him, Wiseman stepped around him and was able to get off a layup, during which he was fouled. He has all the potential in the world, and apparently he's a quick study, too.

There was a lot about the Warriors' season opener that Kerr will not be pleased about. As a team, they shot the ball poorly on one end, and looked completely lost defensively at the other. But it's also important to keep the proper perspective.

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This was the Warriors' first game in over nine months. It's a brand new group that's missing Draymond Green. And they were starting a 19-year-old rookie who went from playing against the University of Oregon to facing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

 

And you know what? Wiseman held up just fine.

The Warriors are extremely excited about him, and it's easy to see why. The season opener was a disappointment on the whole, but in Wiseman's debut, Golden State has at least one thing to feel very good about.