James Wiseman's NBA debut in Warriors' loss raises volume on quiet hype

Monte Poole
·4 min read

Wiseman's NBA debut raises volume on quiet Warriors hype originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The first 24 minutes of James Wiseman’s NBA career provided Warriors fans and the rest of the league with a straight shot of the intoxicant that has had teammates and coaches quietly buzzed ever since his first scrimmage.

The 7-foot-1 height, with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, making him the most attractive lob target in franchise history.

The shooting touch, soft enough for 25-foot 3-pointers to flutter through the net as if dropped by parachute.

The consistent activity, indicative of a 19-year-old with the self-motivating gene.

The court sense, a component that can’t be taught.

And, perhaps most impressive, the smooth athleticism that allowed him to grab a defensive rebound and glide-dribble 90 feet to the cup without the entire Warriors pleading with him to pass the ball to someone paid to handle it. They let the kid go. They’ve seen it in practice.

“I feel very capable of doing that,” Wiseman said. “I’ve just got to make sure I slow down next time.”

That’s because his solo break ended in a charge call, the kind of turnover NBA rookies and even MVP veterans -- hey, Giannis -- tend to run into. It was not a factor in a game the Warriors lost early and decisively, 125-99, to the Nets in Brooklyn.

But Wiseman’s ability to navigate such a move without looking silly simply is not in the bag of most 7-footers -- much less one that has played barely more than one hour of competitive basketball since high school.

Wiseman scored 19 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the field, making his only 3-ball. He added six rebounds and two steals. His minus-10 for the night was by far the least appalling plus/minus among Golden State starters, all of whom ranged from minus-23 to minus-28.

He was, dare we say, quite impressive

“I wasn’t shocked to see that,” Steph Curry said. “He showed that in practice and in our scrimmages. He’s very confident in what he can do, so it was good to see him just get his feet wet, get some reps.”

That’s the most tantalizing aspect of all with Wiseman. He’s the third-youngest player to start a game for the Warriors. He missed the first week of training camp. He missed all three preseason games. He’s practically a drop-in. Or maybe Wiseman, as coach Steve Kerr said, “fell off the turnip truck” and posted strong numbers.

“He played really well. He looked great out there,” Kerr said. “I would have preferred a game where we actually were in the game and playing at a competitive level. Obviously, we get crushed tonight.

“But James showed exactly why we’re excited about him. He’s a really talented guy and he's smart and hardworking and he wants to do well and fit in with his teammates. He’s got a bright future.”

Wiseman had several raw-rookie moments, including one in which he let Brooklyn center DeAndre Jordan slip past him for a lob dunk. The rookie acknowledged that error, as well as his substandard screening and merely satisfactory rebounding.“I think I did really well for not playing in a year and getting through the protocols and stuff,” Wiseman said. “I’ve just got to get my conditioning back up. But in terms of everything else, for my first game -- and (after) not playing the whole year -- I feel like I did well.

"But I feel like actually could have been more aggressive on the boards.”

RELATED: Wiseman's vast potential was on display throughout NBA debut

One Warriors assistant in October described Wiseman as “easily” the most impressive player in the draft. Some teams were concerned about his light resumé. Others wondered if checking out of the University of Memphis after three games -- while facing an NCAA suspension -- was some sort of cautionary moment.

It was exactly five weeks ago that the Warriors, with the No. 2 overall pick, after holding their breath until the Minnesota Timberwolves made Anthony Edwards the No. 1 pick, drafted Wiseman. They loved him then.

Getting him, they felt, was a wonderful reward for having such awful season in 2019-20.

Wiseman is one game into his career, and his employer still loves him. Tuesday night’s unveiling the kind of moment that will have a plenty of others ready to board the bandwagon.

Download and subscribe to the Dubs Talk Podcast