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Wiseman's upside could be worth it for Warriors in draft

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  • Programming note: This is the second installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Warriors with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

With a wide open field, the Warriors are going to have options with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Unlike most drafts, this season might not even have tiers as much as a large grouping of players with different levels of intrigue.

Complicating the matter is that there is limited opportunity to watch these players work out and spending quality time with them also is constricted. You have to hope that your scouting department is strong and that your internet connection can handle Zoom calls.  

In the latest mock draft at NBA Sports Bay Area, we have Anthony Edwards dropping down to No. 2 overall where the Warriors would have to think long and hard about the Georgia prospect, but what if Bob Myers decides to swing for the fences?

More information will continue to trickle in. Mock drafts will shift. We don’t even know if the NBA is going to forge forward with their plans for an Oct. 16 draft. Which means we have time to thoroughly walk through some of the candidates for Golden State.

Memphis’ James Wiseman is one of the top center prospects in the draft and he might have the highest upside of any player. How would he fit with the Warriors? Can he develop into a star? There are a lot of questions about the 19-year-old, but Golden State needs to do their homework because he could be a game-changer.

Stats

Stats: 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, .3 assists, 3.0 blocks, 76.9% FG, 23 minutes Age: 19 Height: 7-foot-1 Weight: 240 Wingspan: 7-foot-6

 

In a season of small sample sizes, Wiseman is the leader in the clubhouse. The 7-footer lasted just three games in Memphis before running into eligibility issues, so any stats are difficult to analyze.  

In his three games, Wiseman scored 28, 17 and 14 points for the Tigers. His rebounding numbers were more consistent, coming in with 11, 9 and 12, but again, we are looking at a player that saw a total of 69 minutes on the court.

Wiseman’s advanced stats were even more gaudy than his basic numbers. He posted a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 52.9, a rebound percentage of 24.4 and a usage rate of 29.1. Per basketball-reference.com, Wiseman’s offensive rating over this three-game stretch was a 149.8 and his defensive rating was an 80.8. 

If he continued to post these numbers throughout a 30-game college season, Wiseman would be the hands-down top overall pick. But that didn’t happen, so we are left with a lot of questions.

Strengths

At 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Wiseman is a huge young man. His 7-foot-6 wingspan is massive and he has a standing reach of somewhere between 9-foot-4 and 9-foot-6. 

Built more like David Robinson than Tim Duncan, Wiseman is thin through his hips and has solid agility. He runs the floor like a gazelle, gets early post position and has an ability to battle while getting big in the post.   On the offensive end, Wiseman is active, sets solid screens and is a major lob threat. He has range out to around 15 feet, but he’s had plenty of time to get stronger and work on extending his jumper due to his shortened college career and the coronavirus pandemic pushing the season back.

In the paint, he relies heavily on his left hand, but he can elevate over almost anyone and he has a soft touch when he isn’t going up and over his opponents for dunks. 

Wiseman projects as a big-time rebounder at the NBA level. He is active on the glass, gets big on the box out and he rebounds outside of his area at an elite level. He has an ability to not only time the rebound, but to catch and finish with authority on the putback, which should translate well to the NBA game.

He averaged three blocks per game in his short stint in the NCAA, but that might be more of a starting point than a ceiling. His length is imposing and he aggressively protects the rim.

Wiseman also is rangy as a help defender and with his fluidity as an athlete, there is potential that he can defend on the perimeter for stretches. He might have trouble early in his career with the bigger centers in the league and there also is potential for foul trouble.

In his limited minutes, Wiseman got to the line nine times per game, where he hit 70.4 percent of his free throws. He’ll need to work improving that percentage, but his mechanics are solid. He does his work early to get in position and it is likely that he will be a player who gets to the stripe a lot at the NBA level. 

 

Weaknesses

This is where it gets tough due to the sample size and the fact that Wiseman has been so much better than his competition for years.

On the offensive end, there are concerns that his range is limited, although extending to the 3-point line has been a focus during the downtime. He always has been a focal point, which could be an issue if he goes to a team that doesn’t feature him early.

He drew fouls at a crazy clip in the small sample size, but there is concern that he uses his fadeaway too often and avoids contact. 

In his three-game stint in Memphis, Wiseman had a total of one assist. Again, sample size is an issue, but he is not known as a player that you can run the ball through as a creator for others, although in the right setting, he might be able to develop and improve his overall offensive IQ.

At the college level Wiseman played to his strengths -- rim running, rebounding and defense. That wasn’t the case at the prep level where he showed flashes from the perimeter, off the dribble and in the mid-range. If he goes to the wrong setting, this could be an issue, at least early in his career when his skills are being raised to NBA level.

While he had a storied prep career, he has been in a gym working out without the ability to expand his game against high end competition for a long time. He will need time to develop and increase his overall basketball awareness.

RELATED: Warriors will draft Wiseman No. 2 if no trade, NBA execs believe

 

Fit with Warriors

Wiseman would likely slide into the Warriors starting lineup on Day 1 alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. 

He would be a fourth or fifth option early in his career as he learned the game, but his ability to run the floor and protect the rim, like JaVale McGee did during back-to-back championship runs, could really work with the current roster.

Where Wiseman could really have value is in his second and third NBA seasons when he gains experience in the system and can begin to take more of the load off of the veteran players. 

He has elite potential and could develop into a star big, especially if he’s given an opportunity to grow without having the pressure of being great early. 

Golden State could really use a rim runner and a shot blocker. Wiseman is that, with the potential for so much more. 

Player Comparison

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