The Warriors salvaged a rocky start to the season on Tuesday, beating the Pistons 116-106 to bring their record to 2-2. The team will head back to San Francisco with good vibes thanks to a big night from Steph Curry (31 points, six assists, five rebounds) and a 17-point fourth quarter from Andrew Wiggins.
Rookie center James Wiseman also had a hand in the victory. He faced early foul trouble and fouled out for the first time in his young career, but Wiseman’s defense made a noticeable impact in the second half. Chiefly, he combined with Wiggins’ offensive outburst early in the fourth quarter to build a lead while Curry rested.
According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Wiseman’s defense in the second half, which was perhaps his best defensive display in the NBA to date, came with a boost from injured forward Draymond Green, in the form of some sage advice.
Here’s part of what Slater wrote:
… there was an interesting scene just as the third quarter was about to begin. Green, wearing an orange hoodie, was in Wiseman’s ear out of the huddle. He was clearly instructing Wiseman to be more physical. He gave Wiseman a forearm shiver and told the enormous but sometimes tentative young center to “hit his ass first” before going for the rebound.
By all accounts, Wiseman is mature beyond his years, so it’s no surprise if he took Green’s, we’ll say, championship-level advice and turned it into immediate dividends. Green is slated to return to action at Chase Center on New Year’s Day against the Blazers, and he’ll be counted on to vault the Warriors to a playoff-type level with his passion, playmaking, rebounding and defense. Until then, he’ll contribute however he can.
Green, the former Defensive Player of the Year, has a special pupil in the talented Wiseman, and it certainly appears he’s taken to teaching the rookie about the foundation of championship basketball, and that’s defense. Coach Steve Kerr said the fourth quarter was Wiseman’s best defensive performance thus far, also per Slater.
It’s clear that everyone in the organization, Green included, sees the potential in Wiseman to help Golden State win immediately and in the future. If all goes well for the Warriors, this is far from the last piece of advice that goes from Green to Wiseman — and straight to a winning result.
(Photo credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)