Coach Steve Kerr finally had his big reveal before the Warriors’ win against the Timberwolves on Monday: rookie center James Wiseman would head to the bench, in the starting-lineup shake-up Kerr warned was coming.
The easy move figured to be removing Kelly Oubre from the starting five. But Kerr has been adamant that he wants his starting group to be elite at defense, and Oubre has proven he can defend at a high level. Wiseman hasn’t established his defense yet because well, he’s a rookie.
But Wiseman’s smart enough to take the demotion in stride. Because while he’s been benched, he’s no less a part of Golden State’s immediate and distant future. He even said his new view to start the game was helpful to his development, according to 95.7 The Game.
Now, Wiseman still spent time on the bench as a starter, but there is something about bench time as a reserve versus the opposite. When you take a seat to begin the game, you know for a fact that you aren’t good enough at the moment to start. You look at the game more critically, especially at the person that took your place.
Accordingly, Wiseman noted he paid special attention to center Kevon Looney, his veteran replacement. I have no doubt he learned a lot, with Looney and the rest of the starting five, which remained intact, getting off to a blistering start in the 130-108 win.
Here’s Kerr’s comment on whether he was concerned about Wiseman’s development from the bench. He must have told this same thing to Wiseman, smartly.
Wiseman is just 19 years old, so I agree with Kerr and Wiseman fully. He’ll develop as long as he’s around hoops and on the team and gets attention from coaches, which he will. He still played a lot alongside stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, as Kerr has said he wanted to have happen, in order to prepare for the future.
Curry made sure Wiseman had his head in the game after the blowout, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. This is impressive stuff from the veteran team leader, Curry.
And here’s Green on the topic, also per Letourneau.
This is the genius of the Warriors coaching staff. Removing Wiseman from the starting lineup has the potential to affect team chemistry. But that’s on most NBA squads. On the Warriors, everybody buys in, starting with Curry when he was upset about former coach Mark Jackson getting fired.
But Curry bought into Kerr’s style, and it paid off handsomely. Three championships later, and with much support for each player from coach Kerr himself, what other reaction could Wiseman have? Especially if Kerr sat him down and communicated directly with him, as the coach is known to do.
It added up to a much needed blowout win, AND Wiseman still got to develop, with some impressive plays in almost 17 minutes of action. He tallied 13 points on 4 for 5 shooting from the field and 5 for 8 from the free throw line along with two blocks and four rebounds.
In fact, the Dunker-in-Chief had the dunk of the night. How’s that for development? Wiseman will attempt to learn and grow even more when the Warriors face these same Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)