After all the NBA draft smokescreens and the last-minute news of Klay Thompson's injury, the Warriors stayed the course and drafted the best player on their board, landing James Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick.
Wiseman was a tricky draft case. He was expected to be the No. 1 pick at the start of last season, but an NCAA investigation into improper benefits saw him play in only three games for the Memphis Tigers before leaving school to train for the draft. The center is a dying breed in today's NBA, and some within the Warriors reportedly were reluctant to spend a high pick on a center.
But owner Joe Lacob believes Wiseman is the type of player who rarely comes around.
“To be honest with you, he was my No. 1 forever, basically,” Lacob told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami. “I just think he’s a once-in-a-decade kind of guy. I would argue that, other than (Joel) Embiid, I don’t know that there’s another center prospect that’s come along in the last decade that you would put in the same category. Different players, maybe. But this guy is immensely talented."
Any questions the Warriors might have had about Wiseman clearly were put to bed when he worked out for them in Miami.
“When you see him in person, it’s pretty compelling," Lacob said. "And when we watched him do his workout, it’s pretty compelling. … Some of the things he does on the court for a guy his size, he’s very mobile, really good ballhandling for someone his size. Anyone who says he can’t shoot is crazy. He can shoot. He’s going to get better; he can shoot. And he’s obviously going to be a very good defender, he’s going to be a rim protector and shot blocker, so there’s a heckuva lot of things to like. And I just think he’s a great fit as well with what we needed and with our team.”
Wiseman joins a Warriors team that had their world rocked by the injury to Thompson but still plans to compete for an NBA title.
At 7-foot-1, Wiseman is a game-changer on the defensive end of the floor who will be a huge threat as a rim-runner alongside Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. At the current moment, his offensive game is centered close to the hoop, but he's been working hard to extend his range and polish his overall offensive game.
The Warriors, unsurprisingly, believe they are the perfect team for Wiseman to reach his potential with.
With Thompson likely out for the season, the Warriors sprung into action and acquired Kelly Oubre Jr. in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They still need at least two more veteran pieces to fill out the roster around Curry, Green and Wiggins.
Wiseman fell into the Warriors' lap at No. 2 overall. They never hesitated, snapping up a player many think has a Chris Bosh-type ceiling. They hope he's the one who can help usher in the next era of Warriors dominance.