James Wiseman — who played three games his one season at Memphis before the NBA Draft — was considered a multi-year project from the start. The athleticism and potential were unquestioned, and he flashed that during his rookie season, but there were plenty of times he just looked lost, like a player trying to catch up to the speed of the NBA game.
It’s part of the development curve for the No. 2 pick. But will Wiseman get to a part of the curve where he could help Stephen Curry (and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) win a title before they get well past their prime?
Steve Kerr said he doesn’t know, and the knee injury that sidelined Wiseman for the rest of this season doesn’t help matters. This was Kerr’s full, honest answer on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky” show (hat tip Drew Shiller at NBC Sports Bay Area).
Big guys take longer to develop than guards — it’s just a fact,” Kerr said. “So 100% when we picked him, it was, ‘This guy is really talented and he’s a great kid.’ However long it takes, he’s gonna be well worth the pick.
“And I know we can further the conversation and say, ‘What about the timeline with Steph [Curry and Draymond [Green] and Klay [Thompson] and what does that mean.’ And those are valid questions.
“Can we get James up to speed quick enough to match the timeline with our three core guys? And that’s a great question. And we don’t know the answer. But when you go into a draft and you see someone who potentially is a generational talent, then that’s a decision you have to make.”
The Warriors could face this same question on July 29 when the 2021 NBA Draft takes place — the Warriors have the rights to the Timberwolves first-round pick from the D'Angelo Russell trade. It’s top-three protected, and right now the Timberwolves have the second-worst record in the NBA, but even if they end up with the worst record it still means there is a 59.9% chance the pick falls to Golden State.
The Warriors can pick another potential young star at No. 4 or 5, but will that young player or Wiseman get onto the same timeline as 33-year-old Curry?
That has led to some speculation the Warriors might try to trade Wiseman for veterans to win now, but the buzz around the league is it will take a godfather offer for the Golden State to consider it.
It’s worth monitoring the rumors, but the real question is how big a leap can Wiseman make before his sophomore season?