The legend of Kevin Durant lives on in Golden State — even in some unexpected ways.
For example, when Warriors center James Wiseman recalled preparing for his first game of organized basketball in nearly a year, he mentioned Durant, the former two-time NBA Finals MVP for Golden State and current Brooklyn Net.
Turns out, Wiseman “got buckets” with Durant on the popular NBA 2K video game as part of his relaxation method, along with some morning meditation to tie it all together.
Here’s Wiseman’s comment, about 20 seconds into Anthony Slater’s video (The Athletic). The rest of the clip is definitely worth a watch as well, with Wiseman fresh off his first performance in a very long time.
Durant, of course, left the Warriors to sign with the Nets. He’ll always be tied to Golden State though, just as he was in this instance, somewhat inadvertently, by Wiseman.
But the real news is Wiseman’s return. He’s finally healthy, 11 months after tearing the MCL in his knee on March 10, 2021. There were multiple setbacks in his recovery, but a final, relatively minor surgery to clean up the initial procedure seems to have done its job.
Now, a noticeably larger Wiseman is warming up for his NBA debut. The above video was taken after the first of his two scheduled G-League games with the Santa Cruz Warriors on Thursday. Here are his highlights and stats, courtesy of Jason Dumas of KRON4 News.
Wiseman said his favorite play was his offensive rebound that led to a demonstrative dunk. It was a great play, but I was most impressed by his two baby hooks in the paint, one from the mid-post. I don’t expect the Warriors to feed Wiseman the rock down low anytime soon, but in the NBA Playoffs, having different styles of play in the arsenal can be vital.
He could have mismatches in the playoffs that he can take advantage of on the block. Plus, Wiseman’s post game could serve him well for his long-term future.
But in the immediate future, Wiseman figures to get a shot at joining the rotation in short bursts of minutes. I envision his role being very similar to that of ex-Warriors C JaVale McGee, who won two titles with Durant and the Warriors.
And I’ve got to say this: Wiseman is going to be very, very good. It seems very obvious to me. He’s still very young and even more inexperienced, yet his talent jumps off the court (literally). He’ll help Warriors mainstays Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green immensely, even in this year’s NBA Playoffs.
But it remains to be seen whether Wiseman will choose one of his teammates to “get buckets” with next time. We all know how great KD is though. And as long as Wiseman can stay healthy and realize his potential, he’ll get plenty of his own buckets in the years to come.