Golden State Warriors: Should James Wiseman be the top target in the draft?

Should James Wiseman be the top NBA Draft target for the Golden State Warriors?

On paper, this might seem like an easy decision. The Golden State Warriors, even during their championship run, lacked the presence of a true center. Despite the versatility of Draymond Green, at 6-foot-7, he doesn’t provide the size that a true center can.

With a possible prototypical center for the new NBA sitting at the top of 2020 draft big boards, and with the Warriors sitting on the potential top overall pick, or at the very least a likely top 3 pick, it would make sense for Golden State to target James Wiseman in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Although, would that be the smartest move for the Warriors?

Drafting Wiseman seems like an easy decision. Wiseman only played three games at Memphis, before he was ruled ineligible and elected to prepare for the upcoming draft, but in that small sample size flashed enough of his potential.

In those three games, Wiseman averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks per game on 77 percent shooting from the field. At 7-foot-1, though, he’s a good athlete for his size and has the potential to stretch his offensive abilities. The true test is whether he’ll be able to prove he can develop a consistent jump shot.

The natural talent is certainly present, however. The second part of this potential pick is that he’ll fit right in with the Warriors. He would have a great chance to start from day 1 and would fit right in next to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green in the starting 5.

If he’s not ready, he can come off the bench and will be, easily, their most talented bench player.

On the other hand, there are certainly some questions in Wiseman. For one, he only played three games in college. For the most part, compared to other prospects near the top of big boards in the 2020 draft class, Wiseman is still an unknown.

Despite his raw skill-set, the extremely small sample size from Wiseman in college is certainly a concern. His jump shot is still very much a question mark. Even though he did showcase some potential touch, he hasn’t done so on a consistent basis.

The good news is that on a team like the Warriors, with so many other offensive weapons, Wiseman won’t be asked to do much. And that might end up being the perfect landing spot for a prospect like Wiseman.

Sometimes for young players, less is more, and that could very much be the case for Wiseman who really didn’t exactly have collegiate experience and time to develop much with live-action basketball.

Another concern, however, is the way the current NBA continues to trend. Today’s basketball is proving that a traditional big man is no longer a necessity. It’s part of the reason why the Warriors were still as successful as they were without a true starting-caliber one (other than Andrew Bogut).

If Wiseman fails to develop a consistent jump shot or 3-point shot, his value will drop pretty significantly in the league. Big men without the ability to stretch the floor are no longer in demand in today’s game.

In fact, just look at which “centers” were named to this year’s NBA All-Star teams. Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Rudy Gobert. Two of those three consistently shoot the 3 and have a consistent mid-range jumper. Gobert is arguably the best interior defender in the NBA. But even his value has been questioned as of late.

So if Wiseman doesn’t show the ability to extend his offense in terms of a mid-range jumper, or a 3-point shot, he’d have to be generationally great on defense for him to be validated as a top pick in this draft.

Next: NBA: Stephen Curry headlines a redrafting of the 2009 draft class

Question is, are the Warriors willing to take that gamble on a raw talent with a high ceiling? The alternative could be a player whose ceiling isn’t nearly as high but could help the team compete for a championship now. For a franchise that prides itself on being “light years ahead” from its competition, their decision will certainly be interesting.

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