Warriors center James Wiseman during practice on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at Chase Center in San Francisco. (Michelle Poole, Golden State Warriors)
Despite rookie James Wiseman’s lack of practice time, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr left open the possibility that he could start in the regular season opener against the Nets on Dec. 22.
“Depends on where we are next Tuesday,” Kerr said.
Wiseman and Draymond Green scrimmaged for the first time Wednesday after clearing league protocol for positive coronavirus tests that sidelined them for training camp and the Warriors’ first two preseason games. They are both ruled out for Thursday’s preseason finale in Sacramento.
Having been limited to individual work and contract drills this week, Wiseman in Wednesday’s full-speed 12-minute scrimmage, “Made some great plays using his athleticism and speed,” Kerr said. “Then was late on some plays because he hasn’t experienced what he’s looking at before.”
These mixed results are why coaches are tempering expectations for Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the draft. At 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds, Wiseman has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer David Robinson.
However Kerr cautions not to think of Robinson as he was as a 10-time All-Star with the Spurs, but rather as a 19-year-old sophomore at Navy who averaged nearly 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game against college competition, but was far from a polished product.
“Where he is now compared to where he’s going to be two years from now is two different things,” Kerr said, “because you’re talking about a guy who’s 7-feet tall, huge wingspan, runs the floor, good touch, handles the ball — the package you don’t see very often, but there’s zero experience.”
Incidentally, Wiseman has watched film of Robinson at Navy, and believes he can similarly rebound, run the floor and anchor a defensive backline.
Through the first two preseason games, it seems the Warriors will need Wiseman’s rim-protection presence. After giving up an average of 52 points in the paint per game with Kevon Looney starting and Marquese Chriss off the bench, Kerr has yet to decide on an opening-day starter. The Warriors will have a light practice Friday and a full scrimmage Saturday that could serve as the deciding factor.
“It could be any of the three,” Kerr said.