James Wiseman smacked a Gatorade cooler on his way to the bench Monday night after picking up his fifth foul against the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was the third quarter, and Wiseman had just been called for another charge on Lakers center Marc Gasol in what already was a frustrating game for the rookie. The Warriors trailed by double-digits, and Wiseman had committed five turnovers and was being schooled by Anthony Davis and Gasol. Just three days earlier, it was Nikola Jokic who gave it to the rookie.
Just 13 games into his professional career -- and after playing just three games in college before being drafted -- it's not surprising that Wiseman is struggling against some of the NBA's top centers. As with everything else surrounding the Warrior right now, there needs to be some patience and understanding that Wiseman is going through a learning process.
"We all know at times it gets frustrating," Warriors veteran Draymond Green told reporters after Monday's game. "When the game isn't going your way, I can only imagine how frustrating it can be for a 19-year-old who hasn't really been through much in life at all. It'll be fine. Nobody's really worried about it. The game needs to slow down for him. He needs to slow down, and that'll happen over time.
"I don't think that happened for anyone as fast as we all want it to happen for him. It'll happen. He's just got to stay the course, continue to stay aggressive."
Green is correct that the game doesn't come to players as fast as they'd want.
Take Kevin Garnett -- the player whom Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he wished Wiseman could meet with and pick his brain. When Garnett was 19, he averaged 10.4 points on 49 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was averaging 6.8 points on 41 percent shooting and 4.4 rebounds at 19. Dwight Howard averaged 12 points on 52 percent shooting and 10 rebounds, and Chris Bosh was putting up 11.5 points on 46 percent and 7.4 rebounds.
The point is, Wiseman, who is averaging 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds on 48.3 percent shooting, is a kid who has barely had any playing time in the NBA, and it takes time to adjust.
Were the Warriors better against the Lakers when Wiseman was on the bench? Yes. But will each matchup be as challenging as going up against Davis? No. Even some veteran players struggle against the pure firepower the Lakers have at the forward and center positions.
The important thing to focus on is that Wiseman has the potential and the skill set to reach the same heights that Garnett, Antetokounmpo, Howard and Bosh did.
And there already have been glimpses into what Wiseman can do. He's soared coast-to-coast for transition dunks, slammed baskets in opponents' faces and blocked shots -- some reaching halfcourt (looking at you, Domantas Sabonis). Although Wiseman has taken fewer 3-pointers the last few games, we know it's part of his repertoire.
So, maybe the excitement for Wiseman in the long term still is there. However, to get to that point, Wiseman will go through growing pains, and those watching him will go through them with him. But remember: It takes time to adjust in this league. Wiseman is learning that firsthand. But the patience will pay off.
"There are going to be nights like [Monday] early in [Wiseman's] career," Kerr said in a Zoom press conference Monday night. "He just has a lot to learn. I love how he's handling things. He listens, he absorbs coaching, he's competitive.
"After that fifth foul, he went over to the bench and slammed his hand into the water cool, and I turned to Mike Brown and I said, 'I love that.' That's what you want. You don't want somebody who doesn't care. James cares.
"He's just a kid. This is a tough league. There are difficult lessons out there. But he's learning them and growing every day. He's going to have a brilliant career ahead of him."