Assessing James Wiseman's Summer League Debut


457. That is the number of days between James Wiseman's Summer League debut and the last time he played on an NBA court. Drafted 2nd overall in 2020 by the Warriors, Wiseman was seen as the cornerstone for the Warriors' future. However, on April 10, 2021 while going up for a dunk, Wiseman landed awkwardly, and by the way he was grimacing, everyone knew that he had suffered a serious injury. He ended up suffering a torn meniscus. The initial expectation was for Wiseman to return to action the following season, but he suffered multiple setbacks during his recovery. He suffered so many setbacks that he was forced to have another surgery on his knee, and he missed the entire 2021-2022 season, the year the Warriors won the championship. Fortunately, those days are behind Wiseman now, and he can finally look to the future, starting with his first ever Summer League game. In his first NBA action in over a year, there was some clear rust and inexperience, but also some signs that showed the world why the Warriors selected him with the 2nd overall pick. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of all the positives and negatives of Wiseman's Summer League debut. 


First and foremost, Wiseman simply looked very agile and smooth when running the floor, and it seemed like his knee was not bothering him whatsoever. It does not seem like he has lost any of his speed and athleticism even though he clearly added some muscle to his frame. The plan was for Wiseman to play in 4-minute spurts to start off each quarter, yet Wiseman looked desperate to play more, which is certainly a good sign. He finally got his wish when he was able to play the last 3-4 minutes of the game after the Summer League Warriors had a drastic comeback. Though Wiseman has not played in over a year, his conditioning seems amazing. Wiseman's jumper looked much quicker and more fluid as well, and with his high release point, his jumpers will be very hard to contest. He hit a three, a fadeaway shot from the elbow, and a size-up mid-range shot all in the same game, which is very promising. However, the thing that Wiseman improved on the most during his time off the court was his defensive awareness and discipline. He did not jump for many pump-fakes, he kept his verticality, and he was generally on time and at the right spot during help defense. He had two blocks in a span of 4 minutes, and the players he blocked were not clumsy and slow big men. He blocked Blake Wesley, one of the Spurs' 2022 first round picks who is lightning quick, when Wesley was driving into the paint, and Wiseman blocked Wesley again when Wesley tried to take a mid-range pull-up. Do not let the 7 fouls on the box score fool you; a lot of those fouls were ticky-tack calls made by inexperienced referees. The Warriors know that Wiseman is gifted with offensive upside and athleticism, but it had to be encouraging for the Warriors' staff to see that Wiseman's defensive awareness has greatly improved.


The most glaring negative for Wiseman during his Summer League debut was his lack of rebounding. Even he acknowledged it during his postgame interview with Chris Haynes. He only had 2 rebounds the entire game, and though he did not play in over a year, 2 is unacceptable for someone that is as tall and long as Wiseman. Also, Wiseman did not seem as aggressive or assertive in the post. He has clearly gotten stronger during his rehab and he is probably the tallest guy on the court whenever he plays; yet, Wiseman did not call for his own many times in the game, especially when he was down in the post. Maybe that is by design from the coaching staff as a way to let Wiseman slowly adapt to the game, but by the efficient way he was playing on the offensive end, going 5-7, it felt like Wiseman could have had 20+ in his debut. 

Overall, he has 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his debut, and quite frankly, you cannot ask for much better for a guy that has not played for 457 days. The future is certainly promising for the Warriors, and in the next Summer League game against the Boston Celtics, all of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody might play together for the first time in their career. DubNation certainly cannot be more excited. 

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