Whenever a team moves on from a high draft pick after just a few seasons, questions about what went wrong have to be asked. That's what the Warriors are facing at the moment regarding former No. 2 overall selection James Wiseman, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons last weekend.
The Warriors had high hopes for the 7-foot-1 center when they drafted him in 2020, believing he could add a dimension to the roster they haven't had during their dynastic run: An uber-athletic center who could stretch the floor.
But Wiseman never fit the offensive scheme Steve Kerr built around Steph Curry when he arrived in 2014. And then injuries hampered Wiseman's development, keeping him off the court for a year and a half.
On Wednesday, around the same time that Wiseman was making his Pistons debut, Kerr joined Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto on 95.7 The Game to field questions about his former player and why he didn't fit with the Warriors.
"It basically just came down to his inexperience, that's all, where we are organizationally, trying to win a championship," Kerr said. "And I know you've heard me say that before, but that's the answer. You're talking about a guy who just has very little basketball experience with the three games in college, and then the number of injuries he’s had over three years. If I'm not mistaken, he's played maybe 60, 70 games, something like that."
Wiseman finished his Warriors tenure with 60 games played, including 27 starts. That amounted to 1,098 total minutes in a Golden State uniform, 836 of which came during his rookie season.
This season, Wiseman played 262 minutes over 21 games for the Warriors, and at the end of his time in the Bay Area, he had been pulled from Kerr's rotation, having played in just two of his final 21 games with the team.
Coming off an NBA championship won with Wiseman recovering from two knee surgeries, the Warriors are trying to win a fifth title in nine years and there just wasn't a way to allow the 21-year-old center to play in meaningful games.
"It's just not enough when you're talking about competing for a championship, and that's that's where the issue came, and I know [president of basketball operations] Bob [Myers] has talked about it, I've talked about it," Kerr said. "We love James, we love his talent, love his character and still feel that way, and bottom line, he just didn't have enough experience to be in a situation with this team with this continuity. Because I couldn't afford to give him the runway that he needed to to make some mistakes and go out and play."
When Bruce wondered why Jonathan Kuminga is playing, but Wiseman wasn't, Kerr made it clear that he was dealing with two very unique situations.
"Every player is a different case, and so I wouldn't even answer that question because they're just -- you're intimating that James was missing something that JK has," Kerr said. "That's not the case. It's just two entirely different sets of circumstances and two different positions. The center position is much more difficult to play than the wing position. There's just a lot of factors in play. And it's not so easy to just say, 'Hey, here's your answer.' "
The Warriors wanted the Wiseman situation to work out, but after nearly three years, it was clear he wasn't going to have a role on the team as long as Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were trying to cement their legacies with as many championships as possible.
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Now Wiseman has a fresh start in Detroit, where he was able to play more than 23 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds, impressing Pistons coach Dwane Casey.
In the aftermath of an experiment gone wrong, both the Warriors and Wiseman are trying to turn the page. And while fans will always wonder if something could have been handled differently to make things work, Kerr sounds like someone ready to move on and focus on the task at hand.