When Warriors guard Klay Thompson tore his Achilles tendon before this season started, the mission in Golden State became altered, but it was clear.
Next year is the year. That’s when Thompson could finally reconnect with superstar guard Stephen Curry and the heart of the team, forward Draymond Green, giving Golden State yet another shot at an NBA title.
A large part of the plan was to prepare rookie center James Wiseman for the big time, to make sure his game developed fast enough to help the Warriors’ three core players chase titles.
But Wiseman just turned 20 years old. Thompson, Green and Curry have all turned 30 years of age, with Curry turning 33 in March.
With Wiseman injured and out for the season, coach Steve Kerr finally admitted that the franchise isn’t sure whether its young center can learn fast enough to help an immediate championship run. Here’s part of what Kerr told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, the flagship home of the Warriors.
“We just didn’t have a sense of how raw he would be because we only had 3 college games of his. Can we get James up to speed to match the timeline of our 3 core guys? That’s a great question and we don’t know the answer.”Steve Kerr on 95.7 The Game
Well, the Warriors probably should have known Wiseman was raw. I can almost guarantee they did. Perhaps Kerr meant they didn’t know exactly how raw he’d be.
But regardless of that, I think it’s clear the Warriors asked too much from Wiseman in preparing for next season. How can he develop that rapidly when nearly every other prospect, especially big men, but even guards, too, need three or four years of NBA time to find their way?
That doesn’t mean Wiseman can’t help Golden State contend. It’s just highly unlikely he can be a leading man so soon. He could thrive as a rotational player, much like ex-Warriors center JaVale McGee, who played about 20 minutes a night at most and was essential to two NBA titles by the Bay.
Of primary concern is Wiseman’s MCL injury in his right knee. He won’t be evaluated again until September. It’s a big blow to his development, and the Warriors have learned they can’t bet the house on Wiseman becoming a superstar more quickly than perhaps is possible.
(Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)