NBA Draft: How would James Wiseman fit in today’s NBA?

Projected as a candidate for a top selection in the 2020 NBA draft, James Wiseman’s fit seems clear once he steps foot in the league.

Rim running big men are a necessity these days for any NBA club looking to compete on the defensive end of the floor. James Wiseman is next in line as an elite prospect capable of protecting the basket and diving into the lane for easy lobs.

Eventually there could be more to Wiseman’s game than just some pick-and-roll action offensively.

In college and during his first few years in the league, he’s going to act as a rolling big who’s main priority is to put pressure on the defense to slide in and contest, creating opportunities for perimeter shooters to come across much cleaner looks.

Now this isn’t a role that Wiseman should be opposed to at all. Matter of fact, given his size, length and top speed at his position, he’ll be more of a threat than people realize despite his lanky frame at this point in his development, as pointed out by SI’s Emily Caron.

The weight room needs to be a commitment out of the gate for Wiseman. In order to compete on the boards as well as in the post against any of the NBA’s top centers, one must have enough bulk to take the punishment that’s dished out every night down low.

Physical limitations when it comes to muscle mass aren’t a huge concern nowadays given medical and training advancements that have been made by professional clubs, however it’s not something that can be taken for granted.

Other than additions Wiseman can make to his physique, his motor has also been a point of contention in his high school and AAU days.

Motor is something a big man must have in order to produce at the next level. If Wiseman doesn’t want to bring it night in and night out, he’ll get beat out on the boards and kept from getting buckets fairly easily by more skilled and competitive defenders.

A lack of effort isn’t even something that needs to be schemed against. Wiseman taking himself out of the game by his own accord is an alarming thought to have for any team looking to select him with a top draft pick.

As long as Wiseman remains consistent, he’ll have no problem getting his stats and competing for a potential Rookie of the Year award.

The biggest thing to highlight about his game at this point that will allow him to remain in any conversation of praise is his top-end speed as referenced earlier.

Wiseman is a gazelle in the open floor. From the moment he steps into the NBA, he’ll arguably be the quickest player end to end at the center position, with or without the ball in his hands.

An immediate threat in transition and a looming terror in any pick-and-roll play due to his reaction time and speed in diving to the basket, Wiseman will stack dump off dunks and lay-ups despite any strength concerns. Few players his size will be able to match his pure speed, which means he has a unique advantage every time he’s on the court.

Looking beyond his first (and probably only) season at Memphis as well as his early career in the NBA, Wiseman’s unicorn potential oozes with excitement.

A 7’1″ big with an emerging handle, pull-up game and range out beyond the arc screams offensive promise.

Few players his size have a skill base like that to build upon, but these aspects to his foundation are keeping Wiseman in the top pick discussion despite the league as a whole moving toward shot-creating guards and wings with their high draft choices.

Sure the results haven’t been consistent up to this point, but the fact that he’s able to even offer glimpses of this kind of talent speaks to Wiseman’s developmental path and learning curve.

The climb is steep for any giant to emerge as a top scoring option and creator from perimeter areas. But if he can pull it off and become a reliable offensive option outside of simple looks within three feet down the line, any team who overlooked his promise will be kicking itself.

Teams who will be looking at Wiseman even based off of his initial fit and needing to get younger at the center position are the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers.

While all three teams require an injection from whoever can bring the most to the table, what they have in common is that they all employ veteran options at the 5 who don’t necessarily match the athleticism of the rest of the lineup.

Jonas Valanciunas, Alex Len and Tristan Thompson at his age aren’t setting the world on fire in terms of putting pressure on transition defenses.

Wiseman would be an immediate upgrade from an athletic standpoint over each of them, and brings enough offensive upside into the equation to warrant a significant rotation role from day one despite needing to give minutes to whomever his veteran counterpart would be.

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Nothing is ever guaranteed in the NBA, but Wiseman’s transition seems as close to a sure thing as possible barring his improvement in a few areas as well as a clean bill of health. His play in college and flashes of upside should make for one interesting draft conversation as the season rages on.

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