Warriors

JTA emphatically defends Wiseman after rookie struggles in loss

Warriors
James, JTA

There wasn't much to be excited about Thursday night after the Warriors were blown out by the Sacramento Kings, 141-119, at Golden 1 Center for their third straight loss.

Sluggish defense and energy, combined with the electric play of Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox, shut the Warriors down from the jump, with rookie starting center James Wiseman in particular having a rough night.

Wiseman secured eight rebounds, but amassed just six points, along with five turnovers and four personal fouls over 29 minutes in the loss. After being called for his fourth foul in the third quarter, a dejected Wiseman seemed to get a pep talk from teammates Juan Toscano-Anderson and Eric Paschall as he headed to the bench.

Toscano-Anderson carried that same energy to his postgame press conference with reporters, where he emphatically defended the young center. 

"That kid is 19 years old," Toscano-Anderson said. "The NBA is the best league in the world. So many people are out there criticizing him, and I just don't understand it.

"He's at the pinnacle of his profession. I just feel like if you're not at the pinnacle of your profession, then why are you out here criticizing a 19-year-old kid? So, I just stay in his ear. I tell him to have fun. He's worked so hard, his family has sacrificed so much for him to get to this point and achieve his dream. 

 

"It's hard. Like I said, it's the NBA, it's the best league in the world. You're going to have ups and downs. It's a learning curve for him. I just always continue to tell him to smile. Like, I'm still learning how to play in this league and so much more."

That's quite the impassioned response from Toscano-Anderson, but it comes with good reason. Wiseman has been under constant scrutiny throughout his rookie campaign. Part of it stems from the expectations of being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Another portion comes from the prestige surrounding the Warriors' franchise, and the pressure Golden State faces in returning to championship-caliber form while Steph Curry is still in his prime.

But Wiseman was set to face a steep learning curve all year long. Growing pains were always going to occur along the way, especially after he played in just three college games before being drafted.

"That was a tough game for him," Kerr said to reporters after the game. "He's 19. He's in the NBA. This is the way it goes. You have to take your lumps.

"James is going to get a lot better. It's why we have to play him. He's got to be out there, get those minutes, feel the speed of the game. It just takes time, especially for big guys." 

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Clearly, the Warriors are sold on Wiseman in the future, and for good reason. Despite a rollercoaster season that has seen him sidelined twice for COVID-19 precautions, and various injuries that have kept him out for weeks at a time, Wiseman still has managed to earn a promotion to Golden State's starting squad, and he'll likely remain there for the rest of the season.

And despite what outside chatter may say, Wiseman's teammates aren't worried about his long-term projections. In fact, they're looking forward to it.

"He'll be alright," Toscano-Anderson said. "Like I said, and I'm going to stand by my words, that kid is going to be a monster in the years to come."

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