In an ideal world for the Warriors, people won’t even remember the time James Wiseman was benched as a rookie for a couple of games against the last-place Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s their center of the future, just not in the starting lineup for now.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the No. 2 overall pick will return to the starting five eventually, but that the team will re-evaluate the situation following Wednesday night’s contest against the T-Wolves.
“He’ll be back at some point,” Kerr told reporters during a pregame video conference on Wednesday. “I don’t know when that will be. I think a big part of this season for our coaching staff is to navigate the balance between trying to be a playoff team and trying to win as many games as we can and not wasting any time developing James.”
Kerr said the impetus to start Kevon Looney over Wiseman comes down to the team’s desire to get off to a faster start. The sixth-year forward is the team’s most experienced big man, and Kerr cited Looney’s experience in the NBA Finals as an example. The quintet of Steph Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Looney has also paid dividends in the plus-minus department this season.
Wiseman, to his credit, said he views the benching as a positive learning experience. The 19-year-old scored 13 points on Monday while posting the best shooting night of his young career, going 4-of-5 from the field. Wiseman said he benefits from watching the opposition react to Looney’s actions to begin the game.
“He’s amazing,” Kerr said of Wiseman. “Just his maturity and his ability to absorb coaching and advice. He kind of has just the right amount of frustration when things don’t go well. So you know that it really matters to him and you know how badly he wants to get better. He balances that with a poise that is beyond his years.
“Everything he experiences this year is part of his development, including how he handles going to the bench for a game or two or however long it’s going to be, how he addresses the media, how he handles himself at practice the next day.”
Like Kerr said, the team wants to win now and develop Wiseman into the best player he can be. Kerr called Wiseman the “total package,” so it seems like it’s just a matter of time before the rookie is back in the starting lineup.
“We feel like we’ve got a guy who’s going to be our center here for a long time,” Kerr said. “That’s exciting.”