Golden State Warriors

James Wiseman’s feel for basketball is ‘fairly poor’ at the moment, per The Athletic’s NBA rookie tiers

How’s a 19-year-old rookie to improve if he has a sprained wrist?

Warriors rookie center James Wiseman might be asking himself that question in some form after suffering a sprained left (shooting) wrist and missing eight games and counting.

He’ll be back soon, likely during the Warriors road trip, per coach Steve Kerr. But in the meantime, The Athletic’s John Hollinger released his latest NBA rookie tiers. What he said about Wiseman wasn’t unreasonable, though he listed Wiseman in tier 3, dubbed, “More or Less on Track.” It was a bit of a compliment sandwich, if you will.

First, he outlined Wiseman’s immense potential and obvious physical skill noting his quickness up and down the court and his ability to stretch the floor with his 3-point shot.

Then, he said this.

On the other hand, the whole package still leaves a bit to be desired. Wiseman’s feel for the game is fairly poor at both ends, and skill-wise, his hands, in particular, seem to be an issue. He rarely finishes with one hand and struggles to cleanly catch lobs and rebounds. His jumper, while seeming effective, is also quite laborious, and at times settling for the 18-foot 2 becomes a crutch for him.

The Athletic

Tackling each critique one by one, Wiseman’s feel for the game needs work, no doubt. But he was progressing rapidly before injuring his wrist, even on defense, with the help of Draymond Green’s mentoring. His less-than-stellar hands are something I’ve talked about on Bay Area Sports Hub, and I’ve also said that while they’re not top-notch, they are plenty good enough, especially with precise passes from his teammates.

As far as his shot becoming a crutch, that has happened a bit, but rarely. He hasn’t had the opportunity to spread his wings offensively with Green and Stephen Curry running the show. His 3-point shot has been effective, too. He’s shot 9-for-22 from distance thus far, good for 40.9 percent.

Hollinger finishes his critique by saying that overall, he can’t dismiss a 19-year-old rookie that has a PER, or player efficiency rating, of 15.1 after just 20 pro games. Hollinger invented that stat, so he should know.

So we’ll see where Wiseman ends up on Hollinger’s next list. I think he’ll move up the ladder. He was improving from his new bench role before he got hurt, and I think his progress will continue at a rapid rate. What do you think? Are you concerned about Hollinger’s critiques? Per coach Kerr, Wiseman will be back “at some point” during the upcoming road trip, and we’ll see what the rookie has in store.

(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

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