The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors defeated the Washington Wizards 97-87 on the opening night of the 2022-23 preseason on Friday in Japan. Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole, three of Golden State’s studs, shot a miserable 3% from the field (25 total shots).
Inconvenient as that may be for the paying customers who came to see the stars, the Warriors don’t give a damn about attendance. They do, however, pay close attention to how James Wiseman presents himself on the court at all times, and he did not disappoint with his appearance on Friday.
Wiseman scored 20 points in the game, making 8 of 11 shots. Honestly, that sounds a lot better than it is. There wasn’t any serious gunplay on Wiseman’s part. His five dunks accounted for half of his eight total baskets. His last deuce was a nice little baby hook from about six feet, the only shot he attempted that wasn’t at the rim. Take a peek.
20 PTS | 9 REB | 8-11 FG
James Wiseman went to work in Japan 📽️ pic.twitter.com/0yQbfIdk5Q
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) September 30, 2022
Indeed, this is the intended outcome. Wiseman tried to blend in with the seniors at the college symposium, but he stood out like a sore thumb during his freshman year. Though he can make jump shots, he seemed to be putting forth an inordinate amount of effort to prove that he could make shots that defenses will readily yield, and as a result, he was unable to keep up with Golden State’s impromptu, constantly shifting moves.
This is less complicated. He should be free to pursue athletics. The potential of the combo is hinted at by the pick and roll with Stephen Curry. We all know that Steve Kerr isn’t a pick-and-roll coach, but to be fair, Curry has never had a vertical athlete on his team on par with James Wiseman. Defenses will have a hard time stopping Curry as a top-tier finisher since they will need to commit many players to guard him.
Right now, Kevon Looney is starting at center, and he’s doing a great job. Everything there is to know about the Warriors system he already knows. He is perfectly attuned to playing alongside Curry, and can thus anticipate passes, cuts, and DHOs while Curry wears down defenders. That’s too much information for Wiseman to take in at this stage in his life and profession.
Wiseman will have to think more than Kerr would want during his time with Curry, but Kerr is likely to play Curry more on the ball during those minutes so that the offense isn’t centered around setting up Curry.
Wiseman is free to play at his athletic best when Curry is handling the ball, driving to the basket, and cutting into the open space that Curry’s gravity creates. This will cause a delay, but will ultimately make Wiseman run more quickly.
While it would be foolish to draw any firm conclusions from a single preseason game, it was encouraging to see the new and improved Wiseman in action.