NBC Sports

Wiseman's rough Warriors start doesn't mean he's an NBA bust

NBC Sports

James Wiseman, 19, is getting shade from people older than he. It’s a natural result of his output failing to meet their expectations. It’s unfair insofar as he was drafted by the Warriors practically out of high school.

But impatience and judgment are defining characteristics of the world in which we live.

A rough night on the basketball court – and Wiseman’s rookie season is rich with highs and lows – can prompt folks to leap from momentary disappointment to subjective conclusions.

Warriors picked the wrong guy.

Should’ve taken LaMelo.

Wiseman is looking like a bust.

“We all want it now,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Friday. “I want it now. I’m sure James wants it now.

“Very few players get it right away. Some get it right away, and that’s kind of their ceiling. So, we’ll see. It’s going to be a road, and he’s going to have to be an active participant in it. And the good news is he is.”

If some of the harsh verdicts coming Wiseman’s way seem familiar, perhaps it’s because similar reaction last year came down upon Jordan Poole.

Poole’s rookie season had the despair of a six-hour meeting in a 100-degree office. There were more than a few intolerable moments. Drafted as a shooter, he couldn’t shoot. He had a major-college pedigree, but seemed overwhelmed by the NBA.

One year later, Poole is a focal point for opposing defenses. His shot is solid, his reaction time rapid. Moments don’t seem too big. He looks like a legitimate NBA scorer, as was advertised when he was drafted in the first round in 2019.


“Jordan put in a ton of time,” Myers said. “We like stories like that. It’s good story to tell. For him, a good success story. But I don’t think Jordan thinks he’s done it or made it. Certainly, he’s got more to do and more work to put in.”

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Poole is 21 now. He has caught up to the speed of the game and sometimes exceeds it.

Wiseman will be 20 next Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of things I like, a lot of things I’ve seen that I really like,” Myers said. “There are some things he clearly needs to work on. There are some things where we can help him. There are some things he can do to help himself.”

Wiseman at times gets so caught up in trying to make the most of his skills that he doesn’t always do what can best help the Warriors. He wants to shoot the 3-ball when perhaps he should be moving it and going inside. He gets caught thinking rather than reacting. These issues should change with experience and ongoing coaching.

But his numbers are not appreciably better or worse than those of most teenage big men that enter the NBA. And we’re talking about stars, such as Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh and Giannis Antetokounmpo. J-Wise is in good company.

But it’s not enough for the he’s-a-bust-crowd. And it’s taking too long for the I-need-to-see-it-now bunch. And any heat that turns on Wiseman also scorches the Warriors.

“We want to do well,” Myers said. “We want to pick the right guy. We want to see them succeed. What’s changed is the patience level, even for us. It’s not just us. It’s society, It’s our fans. It’s a want-it-now deal. I think it’s more of a pressure on the players than us. They hear it. And they hear that they’re being graded.

“We’re a little older and we’ve been through the praise and the criticism.”

Jordan Poole is only a year older but surely has a clearer understanding of how the critique game works. He knows enough that he can share a few details with Wiseman.

Having experienced Poole’s evolution, perhaps we all should have a clearer understanding and realize it’s unfair and unreasonable to reach conclusions about Wiseman.

Maybe all he needs is time to prove he’s not Kwame Brown.

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