Kerr believes G League will help Wiseman build foundation originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
While Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green all sit the second night of a back-to-back for the second time this season when the Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Monday night, one name remains in the starting lineup.
Kevon Looney will be the Warriors’ starting center, alongside Donte DiVincenzo, Jordan Poole, Anthony Lamb and Jonathan Kuminga. The Warriors’ 18th game of the season marks Looney’s 128th consecutive game played in the regular season. Only Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges has a longer active streak at 324 games.
For a second there, though, it looked like Looney’s streak might come to an end. He was listed as questionable Monday morning with a left hand contusion and wasn’t upgraded to probable until 90 minutes to tipoff.
Whether Looney played or not, the Warriors weren’t going to bring center James Wiseman back from his G League assignment.
“No, not for tonight,” Steve Kerr said to reporters in New Orleans. “We felt it was really important for him to get a really good stretch in Santa Cruz.”
Kerr then revealed what he feels is the most important part of Wiseman being with the Santa Cruz Warriors right now instead of Golden State. It’s not games reps, too.
“Practice is the big thing,” Kerr said. “When you get individualized attention like the guys do in the G League it’s easier to make more progress, I think, rather than the stops and starts that happen during the NBA season when you’re not in the rotation.”
Wiseman was sent to the G League on Nov. 15, nearly one week ago. Kerr announced the team’s decision the night before after Wiseman went through his third straight DNP (Did Not Play).
The 21-year-old has sat the bench for all four quarters in six games this season. He was averaging only 13.4 minutes per game, and he hadn’t attempted more than three shots in a game since Nov. 1. Wiseman’s lifestyle changes going to Santa Cruz, but so do his on-court opportunities in all aspects.
He played 25 minutes as the starting center, scoring 19 points with 11 rebounds. Wiseman was efficient from the field, going 7-for-12 overall and 1-for-2 from 3-point range. But he also was whistled for five fouls and his minus-13 in plus-minus was the lowest among Santa Cruz starters in a 111-91 loss.
“I think it’s just all part of natural evolution of a young player who doesn’t have much experience, who happened to come into the league as the pandemic started and then missed a year-and-a-half with an injury,” Kerr said about Wiseman’s journey so far. “That’s it, that’s bottom line.
“Every player needs a foundation, but when you have a guy who missed all of that time with the circumstances and hasn’t been able to really build that foundation, you have to try and do the right thing to help him get going. This is what we’re thinking.”
The Warriors are building Wiseman’s foundation in the early stages of his third year as a pro, hoping the long-term success will far outweigh the short-term headaches. His road from the start of his short-lived college career to his first few years in the NBA have been bombarded with obstacles. There still will be bumps, but everyone’s fingers are crossed that the path will start being much smoother.
His stop with Santa Cruz won’t be a wave hello and goodbye. Kerr already said he expects Wiseman to be in the G League for around 10 straight days. They aren’t in a rush for his latest version of ramping up.
One hour after the Warriors start their contest with the Pelicans, Wiseman will be on the floor at the Maverik Center playing his own road game against the Salt Lake City Stars. He has his past performance to build off. Playing free and finding confidence is key for the former top draft pick.
Over time, the goal has to be correcting other areas that will contribute to wins with the Warriors as well.