It hasn’t exactly been the start that Warriors fans have hoped for concerning James Wiseman. The NBA has had a detrimental past of drafting big men too early in the draft, and although many have been success stories, more than you think are out of the league in 4 years or less. I’m not saying that this is the case with Wiseman, I think he will learn, but his confidence and trust in himself are what make me nervous. It was Sunday afternoon that fans were made aware of Wiseman’s possible season-ending meniscus injury. Before we look forward to how the Warriors will proceed from this point on, let’s take a step back and see how Wiseman affected the Warriors pre-injury.
Coming into the league, Wiseman had shown a lot of promise in his insignificant time in Memphis. He came out looking good in his first couple of games, but his unsureness and lack of confidence started to get to him. I’ll keep it simple, he looks confused on the court, and he detriments the team on offense and defense. There is a ceiling to how many times the lack of a full college season and NBA preseason can be blamed for Wiseman’s lack of development. Haliburton is doing fine, Bey is doing fine, Quickley is doing fine, and Wiseman is remaining stagnant, if not growing worse. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Warriors are 12.3 points per 100 possessions worse with Wiseman on the court. The lineup is also minus 13.2 when Wiseman is playing. When Kevon Looney is on the court, they are plus 6.2 per 100 possessions.
With no Wiseman on the court, the Warriors are scoring 120.1 points per 100 possessions. When Wiseman is on the floor, they nosedive to 103.2 points per. Who does Wiseman affect the most? Steph Curry and the numbers above prove that. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the Steph and Wiseman pick and roll, and frankly, it hasn’t been all that successful. First of all, we need to acknowledge that the pick and roll plays that Steve Kerr has drawn up are exceptional, but besides Curry, the options are limited. There’s Oubre, who will cut backdoor for a slam once in a while, and there’s Wiseman. Last week entering Sunday’s game, the Warriors were 30th in the league when the roller finishes the play. That is measured on the frequency of pick and rolls there are per game. You might wonder, why not run more pick and rolls? Well, these plays are easy ways to trap Curry, and with limited reliable options available, Kerr doesn’t exactly want to go down that road.
Now that Wiseman is gone, what do the Warriors do? The time is running out to win another championship with Curry, which is obviously the main goal of the organization. With Klay getting injured and forced to sit out for the season, that made things worse. Now that Wiseman is injured, it enters another question mark that the team has to investigate. Kerr and the coaching staff thought that they would see more of Wiseman this season. After all, he’s only played in a total of 42 games, college and NBA, so that gives the Warriors minimal time to evaluate his talents and downsides. The option of who to start at center now is clearly Kevon Looney, and although Kerr loves him, and I understand why, Looney is nothing special. He is a glue guy, he holds the team together, which is better than what Wiseman was doing. He is shooting 68.6% on his shots that have a distance of 0-3 feet, and unless he has a lengthy defender covering him, he can finish with somewhat of ease. Looney is the apparent option, but who else could the Warriors look to for scoring and rebounding? Someone that many people aren’t aware of. That person’s name is Juan Tuscano-Anderson. Juan hasn’t done anything too special this season, but I see a lot of promise in the 28-year-old G/F. He’s 6’6, and he can play SG through PF. He is very aggressive on the defensive end, along with snatching boards when given an opportunity. The crazy thing is, he is shooting 41.5% from three so far this season. Scoring from three, plus rebounding and a little defense is what the Warriors can count on this guy providing for the rest of this season and for the rest of his time in Golden State.
This team isn’t hopeless, but the Warriors are stuck in a ditch right now, not knowing what to do. When Steph is off the court, the second unit isn’t sure who should score, and there is a lot of passing. In some cases that is a good thing, like the fact that they are number one in the NBA in APG, but sometimes, the Warriors make an extra pass that is unnecessary. That can be blamed on the teams’ adolescence. The average age of the Golden State Warriors is 26.3 years old. Curry, Looney, and Green, however, boost that total by a large margin.
As I stated previously, the Warriors are looking to win another championship with Curry, Thompson, and Green. Their time is running out, so it will be interesting to see how the front office and coaching staff will proceed from here.