After drafting James Wiseman with the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors immediately saw Wiseman as their big center for their future. However, he was only able to play 39 of the possible 154 games after his first two seasons.
Wiseman missed the entirety of last season trying to repair a torn meniscus. After several attempts to return to the rotation at various points in the season, the Warriors closed him on March 19 after his knee kept swelling while preparing for his return.
The Warriors had expected Wiseman to return and support Kevon Looney. As the only truly healthy center on the team, Looney excelled and achieved his goal of playing in all 82 games last season. He had defining moments during the playoffs that helped the Dubs win their fourth title in six seasons.
Looney was rewarded with a three-year, $25.5 million contract to remain with the Warriors. The Dubs had drafted Wiseman to take the starting center spot for the team, but Looney has played his way into the Dubs’ starting XI, at least for now.
Most promising young players would be upset and complain after being usurped by an older, less promising veteran on the team. Surprisingly, Wiseman seems to have a good head on his shoulders and looks up to the tall man.
“If you look at him as a person, he’s a very humble person,” Wiseman says on the NBC Sports Bay Area Dubs Talk podcast. “Also, he has a lot of wisdom, especially for his age. Kevon is what, 25, 26? That Kevon is that age and has a lot of wisdom.”
Wiseman goes on to talk about turning to the veteran for advice. Since there aren’t that many great men on the team, it makes sense for the young greats to seek advice as only they would understand certain niches.
“I just take it in. I ask a lot of questions,” Wiseman continues on the podcast. “I’m very curious. Just seeing his process and what he was going through and that I was asking questions… really seeing that just gave me a lot of motivation. It gave me a lot of motivation and just to keep working every day, just keep going to strive to be the best that I can be.”
Seeing Looney excel on the floor gives Wiseman confidence he can do the same when he comes onto the pitch with the Big 3 of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The third-year player believes he is able to work within the system and excel on the floor.
With so much time to watch the team as spectators, one has to wonder how Wiseman has kept himself busy, especially since so much free time could lead to serious self-doubt.
“[Livingston] told me a lot about his experiences, and he told me a lot about the rehab process,” Wiseman says on the Dubs Talk podcast.
Outside the three rings, Livingston won with the Warriors, sadly he is best remembered for the gruesome knee injury that tore ligaments in 2007. Now Livingston is the Warriors’ director of player affairs and engagement and someone who is the perfect player for Wiseman to talk to about returning from lengthy injuries.
Wiseman also bought up as Thompson gave him advice, and Thompson spoke about the rehab process while the big man was on Thompson’s boat. After winning Best Comeback Athlete at the ESPYs, Thompson might know a thing or two about what it takes to come back from serious injuries.
Hopefully Wiseman finds out and becomes a solid contributor to the team next season and into the future. Dub Nation will certainly be keeping their fingers crossed.