Before James Wiseman even stepped foot on an NCAA court, he was considered one of the top prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft. And even though he has appeared in just three games in college, he is still at that level.
The 7-foot-1, 235-pound center is easily a Top 5 talent, with his dynamic style of play that is fit for today’s NBA game in the paint. Whether it’s tossing opponents’ shots into the stands or sprinting down the floor for a transition dunk, Wiseman has the skill to do it all and truly make an impact for a team immediately after being drafted.
With the Knicks owning the No. 8 spot in this year’s NBA Draft, it is all but certain that current position won’t land Wiseman. But they do have the draft capital to potentially make a trade. And SNY’s Ian Begley has heard that the Knicks have been discussing the potential of doing just that.
Per Begley, people in the organization are fans of both LaMelo Ball and Wiseman.
Would it be for Wiseman if the Knicks did strike a trade? Let’s break down the case for and against that very move:
The case for trading for Wiseman
Everything about Wiseman is intriguing if you’re an NBA team. His athletic ability and speed don’t match his size at all. He’s extremely nimble, too, which means he doesn’t have to just stay in the paint and protect the rim. He can develop into someone that can guard outside on the perimeter, if need be.
On offense, Wiseman uses his speed in transition and can really get up and down the floor in a hurry. He’s got solid hands around the rim when he has the ball, too, and he’s a great finisher. A lefty, Wiseman features a pull-up jumper instead of just post-up moves, but there is certainly time for him to develop a more consistent one further outside near the arc.
The Knicks do have Mitchell Robinson in place, and they believe they found a steal in the second round in 2018 because his athletic abilities have been on full display. But Wiseman is even more polished than Robinson coming into the league, and many believe his ceiling is through the roof.
Plus, can you imagine both of them on the floor at the same time? Robinson has been working on his jump shot and Tom Thibodeau could be creative with both of them.
Wiseman has everything in him to be a double-double machine, he can build more muscle, and the projections is a starting center that dominates on both ends of the floor. Thibodeau had Joakim Noah to develop in Chicago. He can do a lot with Wiseman under his wing.
The case against trading for Wiseman
Let’s ignore the biggest issue with Wiseman’s draft profile, and just look at the Knicks first because we’ve already touched on it: they already have Robinson in place.
Robinson is a starting-caliber center and is a very athletic player that does things on both ends of the floor. He’s also been seen working on his jump shot this offseason, something that could be featured this year if he’s left open on the perimeter. His pick-and-roll game could be even better than it already is (insert any alley-oop video you can find of Robinson). Adding Wiseman could be viewed as just wasting a draft pick because Robinson is already there.
Also, Wiseman was suspended by the NCAA for 12 games because of Memphis Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway being deemed a booster and giving the Wiseman family $11,500 to help with moving expenses years ago. Because of that, Wiseman only played three games in college, and opted out after the suspension went down to focus on preparing for the Draft.
Who knows what Wiseman would’ve shown in those other games? But the fact that it was just three games, and his dominance came on the high-school and AAU circuits, there is doubt out there regarding how Wiseman’s transition into the league will occur.
Instead, the Knicks could just stay pat, take a player at a position that doesn’t already have a foundational piece in place, and worry about adding depth behind Robinson later on if they so choose.