Kerr very confident Wiseman can follow Ayton's career path

James Wiseman Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton had a great regular season for the Phoenix Suns, and has elevated his game even more in the NBA playoffs.

As a result, people across the basketball world over the last couple of months have used him as the paradigm for what James Wiseman eventually can become.

And Steve Kerr joined the chorus Thursday afternoon.

"The most interesting thing [about the NBA Finals] has been watching Deandre Ayton," Kerr said Thursday afternoon on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "I talk to James and text him. I'm just so inspired by what Ayton has been able to do. And I think there's no reason why James can't follow that same path.

"[The Suns] really streamlined his game. You think back a couple years ago and he was kind of all over the map. You could tell how gifted he was, but you weren't exactly sure what he was. They've figured it out.

"I'm watching Ayton quite a bit and I'm thinking a lot about how we can use James and simplify the game and make him really effective for us next year."

Ayton is averaging 15.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.8 steals through 20 playoff games, while shooting 68 percent overall and 69 percent from the free throw line. He also has vastly improved as a defender, which is something the Warriors definitely will need from Wiseman.

Furthermore, Ayton doesn't shoot 3s at this point in his career, which is something Wiseman has proven capable of. But it will be interesting to see how much time the No. 2 overall pick from the 2020 draft spends beyond the arc next season.


Will the Warriors have him pick-and-pop and space the floor at times, or will he exclusively roll to the basket and/or occupy the dunker's spot?

Assuming Golden State doesn't trade Wiseman this offseason, we'll get those answers in a couple months.

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"Let's put him in positions where he can really help us on game nights, and where we can really help develop him on practice days," Kerr said. "As that process goes forward, he'll have a chance to play more and more if he's ready to help us win games. And if not, that's fine. We'll keep developing him.

"I know everybody is impatient [and] wants him to be great now. It just doesn't work that way. But if we continue to develop him and we're having a great season -- that's the whole plan, that's the whole idea.

"Over the long haul, we're gonna develop James and we feel like he's gonna be our starting center at some point for a long, long time."

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