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Warrior expectations must be tempered

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What We Learned from Wiseman’s G League Game 3 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors, coaches and players, have spent the last few weeks being especially careful around the subject of James Wiseman. Even as the big man nears his long-awaited return to the NBA, perhaps this week, the cautionary signs remain.

His message is clear: James could help us, but don’t expect a huge impact.

Wiseman’s assignment with G League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors illustrates why. Rust is still a factor.
In his third and potentially last dress rehearsal to return to the NBA, Wiseman had a mixed performance Tuesday in a 118-103 loss to the Agua Caliente Clippers in Ontario, Ca.

One thing the Sea Dubs didn’t do was play through Wiseman. They did not force-feed him and at times practically ignored him. So much so that he was whistled for a three-second infraction when none of his teammates fed him, despite a mismatch in the heel.

Here are three observations from Wiseman’s game in which he produced 15 points (7-of-12 shooting), nine rebounds, three blocks and had under-12 in 21 minutes:

The defense

This is where the NBA Warriors are putting the biggest focus.

Wiseman got off to an auspicious start. When Clippers guard Xavier Moon dribbled past Sea Dubs guard Kalob Ledoux, creating a path to the rim, Wiseman spun from the weak side and hit the shot. More impressively, he recovered the ball and threw an exit pass that led to a transition basket.

Although the rest of his first half was generally not very effective, he improved markedly in the second half.
He grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in 10 minutes of the second half. He seemed to relish the task of being a commanding presence in the painting.

The NBA Warriors want to see discipline, timing, rebounding and the ability to read and react. The hope is that Wiseman can provide them with a measure of protection at the rim. This was hit or miss, and it’s fair to say that it could benefit from more G League action.

the offense

Your timing still needs work, maybe a lot of work.

Wiseman committed six turnovers, and three of them appeared to be a direct result of having so little competitive replay. He stepped on a couple of passes, which weren’t completely accurate, and traveled once on the low block as he tried to decide on a move to the rim.

He improved in the second half, at one point making four straight shots, including a nice left-handed baby hook from a couple feet off the free throw line. After shooting 1-for-4 in the first half, he was 6-for-8 after halftime.

The NBA Warriors need Wiseman to set up screens, which he does no better than average. They need him to be a scuba diver and a balloon catcher, which he is ready to do right now. But he’s still finding the timing and pace to make an impact in the league.

conditioning

Any residual effect of the procedures on his left knee is not shown. Wiseman sprints across the ground like a gazelle the length of a giraffe.

However, in general, it started to slow down after more than five or six minutes. This isn’t a major issue insofar as he won’t be playing extended minutes in the NBA any time soon.

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Unlike the returning Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who will start and eventually see big minutes, Wiseman won’t be playing extended minutes in the NBA anytime soon.

His minutes will likely stay in the 12-18 range, not unlike JaVale McGee’s rotation four years ago.

Although he has developed his body, he is still learning how to use his physique to his advantage. He was the biggest man on the court, but he didn’t impose his strength. If he can’t do it in the G League, he can’t do it in the NBA.

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