Where is the ceiling for James Wiseman? If the rookie can even approach the same stratosphere as two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Warriors will take it.
OK, OK, he’s only four games into his NBA career. But in Tuesday night’s 116-106 win over the Detroit Pistons, the No. 2 overall pick showed shades of the Greek Freak’s ability in the fourth quarter. With the Warriors holding a four-point lead and less than seven minutes to go, Wiseman swatted Mason Plumlee at the free-throw line before collecting the ball, driving down court, crossing up a defender and slamming home a dunk.
“His ‘Giannis Play’ was pretty impressive, too, in transition,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
When you see the 7-foot Wiseman move like that, there’s not many other comparisons to make. Steph Curry said he also got Giannis vibes when he saw Wiseman glide down the court.
“It did look like a Giannis-type situation,” Curry said. “It was awesome. I think he’s really starting to figure out when to be aggressive.”
Kerr and Curry know greatness when they see it. Granted, it was only one play, but Wiseman’s potential is oozing.
Wiseman finished with six points and six rebounds and has been limited to single-digit points in both of the Warriors’ victories this young season. But he has impressed early with his maturity, 3-point shooting and athleticism.
It’s easy to talk about Wiseman’s high-flying theatrics Tuesday, but he also deserves credit for staying disciplined on defense. Multiple times during the second half, Wiseman didn’t take the bait on a couple of tough pump fakes and kept his footing to force awkward shots. He finished the night with two blocks.
“James had a really good stretch in the fourth, with his size and his presence in the paint, for the first time really, in the four games,” Kerr said. “It looked like he sort of knew what his job was -- to protect the rim and not foul. … I thought he had his best defensive stretch of the season in that fourth quarter. He made some really big plays.”
Wiseman also fouled out for the first time in his career after 22 minutes of play. No worries for the Dubs, though. They got the win and Wiseman’s future is looking bright.
“He was very disappointed about fouling out,” Kerr said. “You know, he’s just a kid and he’s just learning. It’s just amazing to watch someone that young, with so little experience at the college level, no summer league, no training camp.
“To see how poised he is, how much he wants to learn, how much he listens without feeling criticized or judged. He’s beyond his years from a maturity standpoint.”