What Wiseman learned guarding Nuggets' Jokic for first time

James Wiseman guarding Nikola Jokic

James Wiseman's foray into big-man grad school Thursday included a very visible lesson from one of the NBA's most talented centers.

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic baited the Warriors rookie with a signature spin move in the first half of Golden State's 114-104 loss at Ball Arena on Thursday, drawing an and-1 as the 19-year-old Wiseman desperately tried to chase down his All-Star counterpart.

Wiseman was keenly aware of what he'd done wrong as Jokic got past him.

"Man, he got, like, a lot of tricks," Wiseman told reporters in a postgame video conference Thursday. "So I just had to make sure I just stayed attentive like every second that I was guarding him. I knew I was supposed to get an arm bar on him, but he got me on the spin move with the and-1."

Jokic recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with Wiseman primarily tasked to guard him, scoring 23 points, pulling down 14 rebounds and dishing 10 assists. Wiseman also committed three of his four fouls against the two-time All-NBA center.

Thursday represented Wiseman's first real test against the best offensive big man in the league and, in particular, the Western Conference. He'll have another one Monday against Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers, followed by the San Antonio Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday.

If his postgame comments Thursday were any indication, Wiseman will have more confidence by the time Monday rolls around. Over the course of the game guarding Jokic, Wiseman said he became more comfortable.


"I was just learning," Wiseman said. "Each quarter, I got better ... and then he [later] tried to hit me with a pump fake, but I didn't go for it."

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Wiseman was aware of his first-half mistake guarding Jokic, and he likely will remind himself of it in the coming days. After missing the vast majority of training camp and not playing a single preseason game, Wiseman said watching film has allowed him to get up to speed.

When Golden State and Denver square off next at an undetermined date in the second half of the regular season, Jokic's spin move might not work a second time.

"Studying film has brought me a long way since I'm a fast learner," he said. "When I study film, I can imitate that and put it on the floor."

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