Warriors go big, draft James Wiseman with No. 2 pick

The Warriors took James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, addressing the team’s stated need to get bigger and more athletic.

Though Wiseman, 19, played just three games at Memphis before a legal battle over his NCAA eligibility resulted in him leaving the program, he impressed the Warriors during an in-person workout with his ability to score at the rim and, with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, his upside on defense.

Wiseman, a 7-foot-1, 240 pound center from Nashville, Tennessee, played a total of 69 minutes at the University of Memphis, which lost the nation’s top recruit because its coach, Penny Hardaway, provided financial assistance to Wiseman’s family when the player was in high school. Rather than accept a 12-game suspension and financial penalty, Wiseman withdrew from the program.

The games he played provided a glimpse into what he could be — a rim protector on defense and lob threat on offense. He averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

But without much film, Golden State couldn’t put together a complete picture. That changed when owner Joe Lacob, general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr visited Wiseman in October for an in-person workout in Miami. Blown away with his size, speed and strength, Wiseman rose to the top of their draft board.

Prior to the draft, Wiseman worked out only with Golden State and Charlotte, viewing both as favorable landing spots. Minnesota, which owned the No. 1 pick, already has Karl-Anthony Towns at center.

Wiseman seeks to emulate former NBA champion big men Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, but he’s yet to display the polish of his basketball idols. Though he’s shown a willingness to shoot 3-pointers and space the floor like Bosh, and has flashed the ability to guard effectively on the perimeter like Garnett, most analysts agree that his immediate role will be much more limited.

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In Golden State, Wiseman can thrive as a rim-runner, finishing lobs at the basket and rebounding misses from his All-Star teammates Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He’ll also provide an immediate dose of rim protection while coaches work with him on becoming a more well-rounded defender.

With reliable centers Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney already on the roster, the Warriors can afford to bring Wiseman along slowly and take advantage of Curry’s championship window.

Beyond that, Wiseman has the potential to become a cornerstone for the Warriors.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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