The Warriors find themselves in flux, juggling the past, present and future, and James Wiseman has become the center of attention for a whole lot of questions from the fanbase.
Apparently, the same is true within the Warriors.
While Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, the No. 1 and No. 3 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, play nearly 30 minutes per game and get to play through mistakes, the same isn't exactly true with Wiseman, who the Warriors took with the No. 2 pick in the draft. With that comes differing views throughout the Warriors on how they have treated their 19-year-old prize.
"There is a source of organizational tension on the way that they've used Wiseman this year," ESPN's Ramona Shelburne said on the latest episode of the "Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective" podcast. "There's some people in the organization that really want them to put James Wiseman out there more. Not necessarily with the benching and all that, that's a separate matter. But just putting him out there more. Letting him play through mistakes, letting him play more minutes, heavier minutes like the other two rookies even though the Warriors are trying to contend for the playoffs.
"There is this sense of the faster you can get James Wiseman up to speed, the faster he can learn and grow from his mistakes within the system -- with Draymond as his big brother mentoring him on the court, off the court ... the better the franchise is going to transition."
Wiseman began the season as a starter before moving to the bench in late January. He also missed 11 games with a wrist injury.
The young center then caused a stir coming out of the All-Star break when he missed a COVID-19 test and was punished by coach Steve Kerr. Wiseman was benched for the first three quarters of their 26-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. He played the entire fourth quarter and showcased just how excited the Warriors are about his skill set by scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 12 minutes.
Wiseman has played 29 games as a rookie, making 17 starts. He's averaging 20.8 minutes per game, which falls well short of how much Ball and Edwards are playing for their respective teams. Ball is averaging 28.8 minutes per game, and Edwards is playing 29.5.
All three rookies find themselves in different situations, too. The Warriors are 20-20, which is good for the No. 9 seed in the West. Ball's Charlotte Hornets are 20-18 and the No. 6 seed in the East, while Edwards' Minnesota Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA at 9-30.
Shelburne also noted how the Warriors always have tried to emulate the sustained success of the San Antonio Spurs, and Wiseman could be their ticket to do so in the long term.
"The Spurs always re-invented themselves," Shelburne said, "They always brought up new young players and it went from David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Tony Parker to Kawhi Leonard. They always had this succession plan, and they were very good at executing it. I think that's what the Warriors are trying to do now.
"They really believe in James Wiseman, they really do. They believe he's going to be a future All-Star, they believe he's going to be a future pillar of the franchise."
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The Warriors haven't been too successful in recent years with their first-round draft picks, but those usually came at the end of the first round. Wiseman is a completely different case. He has all the skills to be a superstar with only three college games to his name. The question is, how will they treat him for the rest of his rookie year?
That's a question the Warriors seem to be having trouble with themselves.