It has been said that figuring out how to play alongside Steph Curry has its learning curve.
The way he demands so much time, space and attention not only changes the way opponents must defend him, but also how to play with him to allow him to thrive -- while also putting yourself in a position to succeed.
It's even more difficult to figure out the Warriors' offensive system, which is built around Curry, for a center.
It's for this reason, amongst others, that former Warriors big man Andrew Bogut believes there needs to be a gentler assessment of James Wiseman's rookie season.
"It’s not a traditional five-spot to an extent," Bogut told NBC Sports Bay Area in the latest Dubs Talk Podcast. "You’re generally getting to post up the pass, you’re generally gonna post up to dribble away from the post to do a handoff to Steph or when Klay [Thompson] is healthy, or [Kevin Durant] in the past.
"So, for a guy like Wiseman, it’s a hard adjustment. When you’re the man in college and high school and they throw it down to you to score, but with Golden State, it’s a little bit different. The post stuff is generally a diversion to get a three up. There is definitely a learning curve there for a guy like Wiseman and bigger guys."
Once you figure out the movement and spacing though, Bogut says, it'll lead to wide-open lob dunks and layups. That's what was beginning to happen for Wiseman before his season abruptly ended on April 10 because of a torn meniscus.
The game was slowing down for him. His basketball IQ was getting better, and he was starting to play the game based on his intuition, not just what plays Steve Kerr had drawn up for him.
He was developing, albeit slowly, but, considering he had played in just three college games before missing training camp and chunks of the season with injuries and COVID-19 protocols, seeing his growth was all the Warriors needed.
It wasn't enough for some spectators, though. The comparisons to LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards' rookie years were nonstop, to the point at which some suggested Golden State shouldn't have drafted the 19-year-old center with Ball and others still on the board.
"I see some the rhetoric about him and I don’t think it’s fair," Bogut said.
"He’s one year into his NBA career, that’s a big adjustment already as I mentioned earlier playing with a guy like Steph and playing in a different system for a five-man. You’re learning the fundamentals of the game and still catching up with all of that, and he’s probably still growing into his body and filling out and lifting weights, so you got to be patient. I know Warriors fans expect the best and that’s where its a tricky line. You don’t want to push this kid like ‘oh he’s not going to be that great.’ He’s one year in."
In Bogut's eyes, it's nearly impossible to judge a player off his first season. Sure, there are some exceptions, but generally, it takes a bit of time. Especially so for centers, which is a position that takes longer to adjust at the pro level.
Three-to-four years into a player's career is when Bogut starts to form official opinions on someone's game and how successful or unsuccessful they are. The first year just gives a glimpse into their foundation.
When Bogut looks at Wiseman's abbreviated rookie season, he sees good starting pieces.
"I think he has the tools that are very hard to teach," Bogut said. "He looks like he’s going to be a very good shot-blocker and rim protector, he kind of already is but he’s figuring out the fouls and all that. He seems to be a decent ball-handler. You can see him bringing it off the rim a la Draymond and bring it up in transition, and he’s shooting the three-ball, and that’s a big plus. Not at a high clip, but the fact that he’s shooting it and he’s comfortable enough to do it in that system will help."
Of course, Wiseman's development will now be pushed back until the fall. And by then, many of the steps he took this season will have to be taken again. But as Bogut pointed out, not even that will mean Wiseman is a bust.
It takes time to adjust to the NBA and even more time to adjust into an uncommon offensive system. There is a learning curve, and it's one Wiseman needs.
"I urge Warriors fans and people who have knocked him to give it two or three years," Bogut said. "He’s a young kid, he’s learning the game and then after year three or four we can chat about if he’s going to be a long-term solution for the Warriors."