This was supposed to be a big season for the development of James Wiseman, but his third year in the NBA is going much like his first two: rocky.
Wiseman has appeared in just 19 of 50 games for the Warriors this season, limited by an ankle sprain he suffered during a 3-on-3 scrimmage in late December. The 2020 No. 2 overall pick is yet to play for Golden State since returning from his injury, riding the bench while other players get minutes in the frontcourt.
Warriors president of basketball operations/general manager Bob Myers told 95.7 The Game’s “Steiny & Guru” Wednesday that Wiseman has been a victim of circumstance.
“Do I want good people to succeed that I interact with every day – that do the right thing and are good people? Absolutely,” Myers told hosts Matt Steinmetz and Daryle ‘The Guru’ Johnson. “But it’s a cutthroat deal. It’s not like you can just do that. I’d put you on the team, Guru. You seem like a good guy, but you gotta be able to play. For James especially, unfortunately, the times that he maybe coulda played, he was injured. That’s been tough. But the path of any young player isn’t mostly clean. There are obstacles to it.”
The Warriors were patient with Wiseman in the early season and let him take his lumps, as he averaged 13.8 minutes per game in the first 10 contests of the year. Wiseman was a solid pick-and-roll threat but lacked overall awareness, was often in the wrong place on defense and fouled too much.
Wiseman spent a month in the G League before being recalled to Golden State on Dec. 15. The 7-footer averaged 12.7 minutes in seven contests off the bench upon his recall, showing good flashes. But his injury came at a time when he could have got more minutes, as Andrew Wiggins, JaMychal Green and Jonathan Kuminga all missed time due to injuries.
“James will, at some point, get an opportunity,” Myers said. “He’s gotta be ready for that. We’re a (Kevon) Looney ankle turn or Draymond (Green injury away). We only have JaMychal and James really. Especially the way we’re playing now. We’re not playing Draymond and Looney much together. So, you can see the exposure there if something was to happen. I don’t want anything to happen to anybody, but it could easily be a situation where James is thrust into it. He’s gotta be ready to play.”
Of the Warriors’ young players on their second timeline, Kuminga is the only under-22 player who has made consistent contributions this year. 2021 lottery pick Moses Moody recently played for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G League, while 2022 first-rounder Patrick Baldwin Jr. usually only gets playing time when Golden State is short-handed.
Myers said most young players go through this phase of their career, though, citing Curry’s playing time early in his career.
“I feel bad for – whether it’s been (Wiseman) or Jonathan or Moses – it’s been up and down,” Myers said. “But there was moments early in (Steph) Curry’s career where Acie Law was playing in the fourth quarter. If I was the GM of that team I would say, ‘This sucks. Curry is doing everything right and he’s not playing.’”
With the playoffs just about 10 weeks away, it sounds like Myers and the Warriors would like to add more depth via trade or the buyout market. Barring injury, Wiseman might be riding the bench for the rest of the season. Though he is eligible for a rookie extension this summer, it’s more likely the Warriors will pay him $12.1 million next season to see how he pans out in the final year of his rookie deal.