Kerr has 'no doubt' Wiseman fulfills his elite potential

Steve Kerr coaching James Wiseman in huddle

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has, throughout the season, preached patience with rookie center James Wiseman.

The 20-year-old played only three NCAA games before opting out of his college season -- amid a lengthy suspension -- and declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft. As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic delaying last season and this one, Wiseman didn't play in Summer League, either. He also missed the vast majority of training camp after entering the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and a torn meniscus prematurely ended his season.

Kerr admitted Monday in a video conference with reporters that Wiseman's "further behind than most big guys when they came into the league" because of those circumstances, and Wiseman already is playing a position that takes longer to develop.

Still, Kerr's confident that the rookie will develop into an elite big man.

"I have no doubt James is going to make a huge impact in this league," Kerr said prior to the Warriors' game against the Utah Jazz at Chase Center. "He's gonna be a helluva player, but it takes time and you can't rush that process, unfortunately. It just has to happen on its own time, so he'll get there, but we'll just have to keep working with him. The good thing is he's a great student, and he's a hard worker and got a great approach. I have great belief in James."


The Warriors' opponents Monday offer a glimpse of the patience required.

Rudy Gobert entered the NBA as a 21-year-old in 2013. He played two years professionally in France, but played fewer than 10 minutes per game in his first NBA season.

Gobert steadily improved with each passing year, earning NBA All-Defensive First Team and Second Team All-NBA honors in his fourth season, NBA Defensive Player of the Year in his fifth and sixth and his first two All-Star appearances in his seventh and eighth campaigns.

Wiseman and Gobert are much different players, as evidenced by the former eclipsing the latter's career-best usage rate (17.8 percent for Gobert) as a rookie (23.6 percent for Wiseman). Still, Wiseman and the Warriors can look at Gobert's career arc as further proof that development takes time for big men.

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The question the Warriors must answer is whether or not Wiseman will develop at a rate that maximizes the remainder of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green's careers. Golden State's pillars are 33, 31 and 31, respectively, and it's not likely Wiseman becomes his fully realized self before his veteran teammates reach the back end of their careers.

If Wiseman develops as well as Kerr believes he can, the center will be more than ready to eventually take the torch from Curry, Thompson and Green. Grabbing it alongside them would be a bonus.

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