Warriors' James Wiseman confident he'll figure out defense moving forward

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Wiseman confident he'll figure out defense moving forward originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

James Wiseman is making strides defensively since returning from his recent G League stint, and the 21-year-old believes things only can go up from here.

Speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Bonta Hill, Chris Mullin and Festus Ezeli on “Warriors Postgame Live” after Golden State’s 110-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, Wiseman explained how playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors helped him on the defensive end.

“The G league helped out a lot,” Wiseman said from the Chase Center Gatehouse. “... Really, [coaches and I were] just drilling the cat-and-mouse game, working on getting a dunker, trying to find spacing and really just working on my screen.”

For the second straight game, Wiseman finished Tuesday’s win with a positive plus/minus rating (plus-1 vs. Charlotte, plus-8 vs. Memphis Grizzlies) after ending with eight points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal in just under 10 minutes off the bench.

And despite Wiseman's scoreless game against the Grizzlies, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was impressed with his defensive showing and credited the youngster’s G League assignment for the improvements.

“He was great defensively,” Kerr told reporters following the Christmas Day victory. “Great, just patrolling the paint. Staging in between the ball and the basket, but still being able to cover the roll man, playing the cat-and-mouse game.

“He had several plays where he just went vertical. He was in the right spots, went vertical. That’s a big obstacle in your way. His ability to do that without fouling is crucial to his place in our rotation. That’s the beauty of his three weeks in Santa Cruz. They worked on that every single day.”

Wiseman’s biggest offensive game of the year came last Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, where he scored 30 points for the first time in his career during the Warriors’ blowout loss. But while Wiseman’s athleticism clearly provides the Warriors with dimension on offense, he’s focused on making more defensive improvements moving forward.

“[The Nets game] built a lot of confidence, especially on the offensive end, of course,” Wiseman said. “But I’m really focused on that defense. I’m trying to get it right, working hard trying to figure it out.

“But I’m eventually going to get it, though.”

One thing Wiseman has made a point to work on is his court awareness, he told Mullin, asking Golden State veterans like Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and even Zaza Pachulia, who now works in the front office, for advice.

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"Sometimes I do get caught up deep in the paint because sometimes, like in high school, I've always been that person that's been in the paint all the time,” Wiseman said. “But now I'm starting to have that court awareness, and by me just repping it out and asking questions with Iggy, Draymond, just everybody, Zaza, and just trying to figure it out.

“And so when the game [does] come, I'll be prepared for it."

RELATED: Finding beauty, benefits in Warriors' ugly win vs. Hornets

As the Warriors look to defend their title as NBA champions, they’ll certainly need a fully-prepared Wiseman. And based on his progress so far this season, there seems to be plenty to look forward to.

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