Every observer of the Golden State Warriors knows that center James Wiseman is a central piece to the franchise’s future, whether they trade or keep the 20-year-old lottery pick from the 2020 NBA Draft.
But if he stays in Golden State, what role does coach Steve Kerr have in store? Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic that while he stands by his decision to place Wiseman in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, the “ideal” role for Wiseman is off the bench.
“That first night in Brooklyn (19 points on 7-for-13 shooting in 24 minutes in his debut), [Wiseman] showed just how gifted he is and how talented he is. But we also showed as a team how far away we were from being competitive.
“So, no regrets at all. I think it made perfect sense to start him right away.”–Warriors coach Steve KerrThe Athletic
Wiseman did look fantastic in his debut, but as Kerr noted, the Warriors looked terrible as a team on opening night. Throughout the season, that theme held up — Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry was less efficient when he shared the floor with Wiseman, and the team was worse off as well.
That’s why Kerr intimated that moving forward, Wiseman will likely play off the bench. He mentioned how well the team played with Wiseman in that role, before Wiseman injured his wrist in late January.
“That was a really unfortunate injury. Because to me that was the ideal role for James this year — not to put too much pressure on him, to bring him off the bench, to play him a good amount of minutes where he could develop and learn but not overdo it.”–KerrThe Athletic
So while Kerr knows Wiseman has the talent to start, he thinks Wiseman can best help the Warriors get the most out of Curry’s unique, elite skill by impacting the game off the bench.
And I think it’s clear that he’s correct. The BASH has endorsed a role for Wiseman similar to that of former Warriors center JaVale McGeee.
The idea of Wiseman seamlessly integrating into Kerr’s pass-happy motion offense –keeping up with Curry and forward Draymond Green — has apparently vanished, and it’s about time. Wiseman’s natural ability should make it easy to adjust to a limited role, especially if it helps to propel the team to new heights.
Down the road, when Curry eventually retires, perhaps Kerr will tailor the roster around Wiseman. But those days are in the distant future, so long as Golden State holds on to its young, promising center.