Steve Kerr had a clear message for James Wiseman heading into the Warriors' Friday night game against the Atlanta Hawks.
"I want him to have fun. I want him to relax and play," Kerr said pregame.
This message to Wiseman came on the heels of a performance that left him visibly frustrated in Sacramento the night before. But he took his coach's advice to heart.
The 124-108 loss against the Hawks was another brutal blow for the Warriors, but the silver lining was that Wiseman looked more comfortable and steady on the court. Any frustration he had was regarding the loss, not his individual performance.
He didn't force his shot which allowed his game to find him throughout the night. When he realized he wasn't going to be successful shooting from the midrange or 3-point line, he pivoted and began battling his way into position in the paint.
His teammates rewarded him by hunting for him on the floor and making sure he got the ball down low. Wiseman finished the night with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, five rebounds and one steal.
"He felt more comfortable out on the floor, for sure," Kerr said after the game. "I think this was all just part of the process. I'm going to probably have to say this every day but it's just going to take time and reps. And he needs to see the pictures and feel the speed of the game. He needs to do it over and over and over again because that's the only way to get where he wants to go and where we want him to be."
The reps that are all so important to a rookie's development have been lacking for Wiseman this season.
After not having Summer League, missing training camp because of COVID-19, missing 11 games with a sprained wrist and another week in health and safety protocols, Wiseman hasn't had the opportunity to find a rhythm or identity in the NBA. This is why Kerr plans on starting him for the rest of the season.
There is still plenty of room for Wiseman to grow, and as he figures out individual parts of his game it will all start to fall in place.
"Me and him have both been talking about being more vocal," Kevon Looney said. "That's something he can be a little bit better in. And then not let the offensive end control his mood throughout the game. Sometimes he gets frustrated, but we're all frustrated right now. If he's more vocal on the defensive end, that would be a big help for everybody."
It won't always be pretty to watch as he works out the kinks in real-time. But the Warriors know they need to have patience with him. They see the reward is worth the growing pains.
Thursday and Friday's games are proof of that.