James Wiseman wants to have a "courageous mind."
To him, that means being unafraid of asking questions to anyone he has the chance to talk to. He's hungry to be a student of the game in order to get better.
So, it comes as no surprise that Wiseman went to Draymond Green for advice and spent the next couple days watching film after his most frustrating performance of the season in Monday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I still got a lot to learn, but I'm getting better each game," Wiseman said Wednesday following the Warriors' 121-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Wiseman looked the best he has all season Wednesday. His seven dunks accounted for the bulk of his career-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Wiseman added six rebounds and three assists, and the latter was five times more than what he's averaging so far as a rookie.
Wiseman’s biggest frustration about his game heading into Wednesday night was the lack of aggression he played with in the previous game. He knew that would have to change, and it did.
Just over three minutes into the third quarter, Wiseman fought off San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray for rebounding position, snatched the rebound off Draymond Green’s missed 3-pointer and spun around Murray for what was his best dunk of the night.
"I'm just studying film, asking questions, being patient with my mind," he said. "I'm making sure I slow down up here, making sure I just read the floor, and being patient with my moves and being way more precise with the basketball.”
Wiseman looks far more comfortable on the floor. Slowing the mental side of the game has resulted in the physical game slowing down for him. He is able to find his spots better, which is leading to easier buckets (like all of his dunks) and better positioning on defense.
Of course, the chemistry he has built with his teammates also deserves some credit in the dunking frenzy Wiseman had.
“Man oh man, that dude’s good,” Andrew Wiggins said, who took a part in the plethora of passes leading to Wiseman dunks.
“[His confidence] is right up there with the ones that have that it factor,” Steph Curry said. “That will to be great and to put the time and the work in.”
Curry, Wiggins and Green have all learned Wiseman makes the entire team better if they get him going and playing with all of his might. So, when they draw a double team or suck their opponents’ entire defense into the paint with them, they know they want to find Wiseman. Right now, it’s about helping him get the easiest baskets, and Wednesday night was a perfect example of them doing so.
But besides his point total, what was perhaps the most important part of Wiseman’s stat line was that he committed just two fouls -- a vast improvement from the six he committed against the Lakers.
"It was really just being smart," Wiseman said. "Just listening to Draymond, talking to Draymond, he's giving me little tricks on how to be smart, how to stay on my feet. Because I'm 7-foot-1, so I don't have to jump. If I'm going to jump, be the second jumper.
"But using verticality, which I'm getting better at. Sometimes in the game, I foul here and there, but I'm still getting better at the verticality rule and trying to make sure that I understand [I'm] 7-foot-1 so I don't have to go and get it.”
Wiseman said it’s hard for him to remember exactly how many games he has played in the NBA. With the pace of the league, it has been difficult to keep track. But what he does know is that with every passing moment, he feels like he is getting better. His game against the Spurs was just a culmination of his development so far.
Wiseman will continue to tackle this season with a courageous mindset, soaking up every bit of education and information that he can. It’s clear he can help this team.
Now, it’s about doing so consistently.