What James Wiseman’s return means for the Golden State Warriors

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 10: James Wiseman #33 of the Golden State Warriors drives against Dominick Barlow #26 of the San Antonio Spurs during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

James Wiseman, the second pick from the 2020 Draft, has not seen much NBA action yet. He missed all of last season due to a meniscus injury, and even before that, Wiseman had a very short college experience in the midst of a global pandemic.

Once drafted, he tested positive for Covid-19 right before training camp started and then sprained his wrist. So far, he has only played in 39 NBA games.

Finally, Wiseman made his long-awaited return to the court and played on the Golden State Warriors Summer League team. Wiseman is finally looking healthy again and showing off his talent.

What James Wiseman’s return means for the Golden State Warriors

In the 2020-21 season, Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in about 13 minutes of playing time. In his very first game back, Wiseman met those numbers again. He put up 11 points on 5-7 shooting and two blocks in nearly twenty minutes of playing time.

Wiseman also committed seven fouls and only grabbed two rebounds, though. The latter is rather concerning, especially compared to Kevon Looney’s rebounding performance as the Warriors’ starting center.

Warriors veteran Draymond Green called Wiseman out for this on his podcast, and the young center took this advice to heart. In only a couple of games, Wiseman already improved his rebounding to seven in the Warriors’ second-to-last Summer League game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is understandable, though, that Wiseman will need some time to get his rhythm back and to gather the experience that his draft classmates collected while he was injured.

After his long absence, Wiseman has a lot to prove and will continue to improve as he aims to do that. He already showed off the explosiveness that made him the second pick of his draft class.

In the very first play of his first game back, Wiseman showcased a dunk off a pass from Jonathan Kuminga. The connection between the two young talents is still a work in progress, but it is encouraging to see that Kuminga is trying to find Wiseman as much as he can.

Kuminga had four assists in the first Summer League game, two of which went to Wiseman. This connection should also translate well to work between Wiseman and Stephen Curry and/or Jordan Poole. With his athleticism and size, it should be easy for Wiseman to replace Gary Payton II, who moved on to Portland, in the dunker spot.

Not too long ago, the Warriors were widely criticized for not trading James Wiseman, but owner Joe Lacob believes in his potential. After the offseason losses of role players like Payton and Otto Porter Jr., the Warriors need Wiseman and other young players to step up and fill the holes they left on the roster.

Wiseman is everything the Warriors need in a backup center right now. At first, they only need him to play a solid ten to fifteen minutes when Looney is on the bench. This will allow Wiseman to gather some much-needed experience, but the rotation might change eventually.

The youngster definitely has what it takes to become a starter. There are not many centers that can move like Wiseman can. He is fast and decisive on both offense and defense and showed off, especially in the latter of his Summer League games. Wiseman is still young and rather raw, but he offers a much more athletic option for the center position than both Looney and Green can.

Wiseman still needs to improve his rebounding and boxing out, but despite his lack of playing experience, he’s already matured a lot. Some of this probably stems from the fact that the veteran players, in particular Klay Thompson, offered him a lot of advice and mentorship during his rehab.

It looks as though he’s already improved at setting screens and will offer the Warriors some additional options on the pick-and-roll. As seen in the Summer League games, Wiseman also still has a good shot from pretty much any position on the court.

Considering the number of incredible shooters on the Warriors’ roster, Wiseman will not have to shoot three-pointers, but he has proven that he can. Obviously, Summer League is not as tough as the actual NBA, where Wiseman will mostly just be a finisher and not a creator. He will have to prove that he can self-create on that level before the veterans will give him the chances to do it.

The 21-year-old big man has a lot to offer the Warriors. He and Kuminga could become the team’s next dynamic duo, given their incredible athleticism and young age. The rest of the league should be terrified of the Warriors, and not just in the immediate future.

Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moses Moody, coupled with Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, make the Warriors’ future look very promising. In Curry, Thompson, and Green, Wiseman and his fellow young talents have the perfect role models to prepare them for a successful future in the league.

With such a promising outlook, fans, teammates, and coaches alike are happy to see James Wiseman back on the court and cannot wait to see what he can really do.