We’re less than a week away from finding out who the Warriors’ first lottery pick since Harrison Barnes in 2012 will be, and the overwhelming consensus from draft insiders and pundits seems to point to either Georgia guard Anthony Edwards or Memphis big man James Wiseman being the selection.
Wiseman, in particular, potentially could fill the lone weakness in the Warriors’ starting lineup with his 7-foot-1 frame and a skillset that projects sky-high potential in the NBA.
Some have questioned whether Onyeka Okongwu out of USC might be the better fit for the Warriors given his defensive readiness, but Wiseman is much bigger and most experts project he’ll have a higher ceiling in the pros. NBA analyst Nate Duncan joined the “Runnin’ Plays” podcast this week, and told NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann that many are overlooking Wiseman's NBA readiness and health at that size.
“I think he has a very high floor,” Duncan told Liffmann. “If you look at the history of guys with his physical tools, when I say that I mean 7-foot-5 wingspan, 9-foot-6 standing reach, he’s a good athlete as well, he’s strong, so you check every box there in terms of that level of athleticism, and your floor probably is someone like DeAndre Jordan.”
Liffmann also added that Wiseman's lack of major injury history might make him a more enticing big man option than some in past years.
"He's 7-foot-1 and has no injury history," Liffmann said. "I think that scares a lot of people about 7-foot-1 players, because maybe at some point they had a knee injury and had to sit out for a little bit, and they're like, 'Oh, I have a little concern about that so I'm worried.' He doesn't have that history."
Players at that size always present the fear of a lower-body injury derailing their career arc, but Wiseman's relatively clean bill of health so far in his career is a positive sign.
Duncan also mentioned Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond as someone who might represent the low-end of what Wiseman could be capable of at the NBA level.
Few can match the combination of athleticism and size featured with Jordan, but it’s quite a compliment to say a player’s floor is a guy who led the NBA in field-goal percentage for five consecutive seasons from 2012-13 to ‘16-17.
Drummond is an imposing force in the post who has led the league in boards four times in his eight-year career, and averaged 17.7 points and 15.2 rebounds last season.
There are questions around Wiseman, as there are with every prospect available in this year’s class top to bottom, but for a team with very little height in the frontcourt, getting a player like Wiseman who potentially could grow into a dominant rim protector might be a perfect match.
We’ll find out just how much Warriors general manager Bob Myers values current big men Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney by what the team elects to do with the No. 2 draft pick.