2020 NBA Draft: Warriors pick Memphis star James Wiseman No. 2 overall

Marcus White
·3 min read

Wait is over: Warriors nab Wiseman with No. 2 pick in draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors got their big man.

Golden State selected Memphis center James Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night.

Wiseman, 19, is the Warriors' first lottery pick since 2012 (Harrison Barnes) and their first top-three selection since '02 (Mike Dunleavy).

Both coach Steve Kerr and star guard Steph Curry spoke of Golden State's need to add size this offseason, and the 7-foot-1 center gives the Warriors something they haven't had since Kerr's hiring: A modern big man capable of being a foundational piece.

“He can easily keep up with the game and the pace,” Penny Hardaway, Wiseman's college coach at Memphis, told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole last month. “He’s very athletic, very fast. He’d instantly be one of the better rim runners in the league. He’s also a rim protector; he is going to protect the rim. His skill set is good enough now, and it's going to get better, especially because he’d be playing with veterans like Draymond [Green], Klay [Thompson] and Steph."

Wiseman was the No. 1 player in the nation coming out of high school in 2019. He played just three games for Memphis, though, before the NCAA issued a 12-game suspension, stemming from his family accepting $11,500 in moving expenses from Hardaway, who then was the coach of East High School in Memphis and considered a university booster, in 2017. Wiseman left the program last December and declared for the NBA draft.

The center played in his last NCAA game on Nov. 12, 2019, a much longer layoff than his fellow collegiate prospects whose seasons were canceled in March because of the pandemic. But he showed promise during his short stint with the Tigers, averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his three games for Memphis.

Wiseman said this week that he didn't work out for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who drafted former Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall selection Wednesday. Wiseman confirmed to reporters Monday that he worked out for the Warriors, and he said at the time he believed Golden State would be an ideal fit.

"It would be great because they've won a lot of championships," Wiseman said in a video conference with reporters. "Just being in that type of tradition, in that type of environment would be great for me."

The Warriors were in position to draft Wiseman after a disastrous regular season that fell well short of their recent success. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, Golden State was 15-50 when the 2019-20 regular season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Curry played just five games, Thompson played none and the Warriors traded offseason acquisition D'Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves at the deadline in a deal that fetched Andrew Wiggins and a protected 2021 first-round pick.

Ownership of the league's worst record ensured the Warriors were guaranteed a top-five selection, offering a chance for Golden State to supplement an aging core of Curry, 32, and Thompson and Green, both 30, with a talented young prospect who eventually could take the reins as the next face of the franchise. The Warriors identified Wiseman as that prospect, hours after they might have lost one of their current stars to injury.

Thompson on Wednesday sustained a lower leg injury that "looked bad," two league sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole. The severity of Thompson's injury still is to be determined.