Much is expected of James Wiseman. Such is life for a No. 2 overall pick.
The Warriors rookie center has shown flashes of what he could become. He has also had moments of frustration. The NBA learning curve is tough for any rookie, but especially a 19-year-old who only played in three college games. Wiseman opened the season as the Warriors' starting center, but he moved to the bench at the start of February.
It's been an up-and-down rookie season for Wiseman, who the Warriors hoped would provide more consistent scoring punch alongside Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. Wiseman always was going to be vital to this Klay Thompson-less season. While Curry has been sensational, it's not a reach to say that the Warriors' ceiling will be determined by the leap Wiseman can make in the next month or two.
Following Wednesday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that dropped Golden State to 19-17, Curry asserted his belief in Wiseman's ability to help the Warriors reach their goals.
"I think he has made strides," Curry told reporters Wednesday night. "The injury really was an unfortunate break, in terms of him not being available, having to deal with rehab and all that. I think for him it's just a matter of continuing his confidence that he can provide huge value for us. Not to get caught up in the rookie power rankings, the talk about other guys that were in the top of the draft class. Everybody's in a different situation. We love having him. We know he's valuable out there and he can provide a huge presence and impact on the floor and not to put too much pressure on him.
"I know he wants to be great and he wants to do it as soon as possible. He wears his emotions on his sleeve when he's out there, but we've seen those bright spots. He'll continue to show that and at the end of the season he'll have a body of work that shows he has an amazing impact on this team."
As the Warriors continue to search for complementary scoring alongside Curry, the two-time MVP doesn't want Wiseman to feel like that entire responsibility falls on his shoulders.
"It's not putting too much pressure on him that he has to try and do everything," Curry said. "Keeping things simple for him and allowing the offense to create easy buckets for him. The little things he can, in terms of setting screens, running hard, blocking shots, continue to learn on defense, where to be, positioning and all that. That will make the game a lot easier for him. Then the bonus is what he can with his skill and that will continue to develop. You don't want him out there feeling like he's got to hit a certain point total and force it. It's just a matter of playing the game the right way, being locked in mentally and good things will happen for him."
Curry is the latest member of the Warriors to signal their belief in Wiseman's ability to help the current Warriors and to become great in the future. Damion Lee cited Giannis Antetokounmpo's leap between his first and second season when discussing Wiseman's road to stardom, and Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, believes Wiseman is in the perfect spot to reach his ceiling.
"Just keep playing hard, playing smart and keep wanting to get better," Wiggins said. "He's around great guys, around Steph and Draymond, around legends. So he's going to learn a lot. It's a process. There's a lot of up and downs in that rookie season but once you find yourself and become confident the sky is going to be the limit for him. There's so much he can do and how raw he is -- the stuff he does, he doesn't even know he's doing it. So when he figures it all out and becomes who he's supposed to be, he's going to be a superstar."
The sky remains the limit for Wiseman, but it will take time for him to become the generational talent the Warriors believe he can be.