Warriors

Report: Dubs saw LaMelo as most talented, Wiseman better fit

Warriors
James Wiseman guarding Paul George

The Warriors had a big decision to make on Nov. 18, and it's still too early to know if they made the right choice, but there already are whispers that they went in the wrong direction.

After the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Warriors picked center James Wiseman at No. 2 over point guard LaMelo Ball.

On the surface, it made a lot of sense. The Warriors already had a starting backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, before the shooting guard suffered a torn right Achilles on draft night, and they didn't have an entrenched starting center.

Wiseman, a talented 7-foot center, could slide into the starting lineup next to Draymond Green and create a dynamic frontcourt.

During the latest episode of "The Athletic NBA Show," host Zach Harper had a conversation with reporters Ethan Strauss and Marcus Thompson II about the Warriors' decision to pick Wiseman over Ball.

Strauss: "Should the Warriors have gotten Ball? Out of that draft, think about when Steph gets trapped."

Harper: "He can catch the basketball. We know that."

Strauss: "Oh. Talk about a shot fired right there. But you just picture him out of the trap with Steph, where he gets the ball at the top of the circle. Look, I think they made the pick that made the most sense at that particular time. But if Ball blows up, that's a ..."

 

Thompson II: "They had LaMelo as one of the, from what I was told, they saw him as the most talented player in the draft. But the fit, it makes more sense with Wiseman. It wasn't like they weren't on him, it wasn't like they passed him up, but this could, in the long run, look like 'Dang, you missed on your Steph Curry replacement.' "

Three weeks into their NBA careers, both Wiseman and Ball are having success, but the latter has found more solid footing with the Charlotte Hornets.

Download and subscribe to the Dubs Talk Podcast

Wiseman has shown flashes of what he's capable of, but there are times where he looks lost and coach Steve Kerr hasn't had the center on the court to close out games, instead opting for a small ball lineup.

Entering Thursday, Wiseman averaged 10.6 points on 46.6 percent shooting, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 20.7 minutes over 11 games. Ball, on the other hand, is averaging 11.7 points on 40.3 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25.3 minutes over 12 games.

The injury to Thompson could have altered the Warriors' thinking on draft night and Ball could have started alongside Curry. But then the Warriors might have had an issue at center. With Wiseman in tow, general manager Bob Myers acquired Kelly Oubre Jr. to fill the vacant shooting guard spot.

RELATED: Wiseman headed to grad school against Nuggets' Jokic

If the Warriors had drafted Ball, it's possible they don't trade for Oubre Jr. Would they be better off with Ball over Wiseman and Oubre Jr.? In the short term, probably not.

But if Ball blossoms into a superstar, while Wiseman never reaches his potential and Oubre Jr. isn't retained in free agency, the Warriors might live to regret November's decision.