After years of steamrolling everyone in the league, the Golden State Warriors are now on their second-straight season getting dealt with tough luck. It was not enough that Kevin Durant bolted and all of the utility guys from the dynasty retired or left, Stephen Curry had to miss the big majority of one season and Klay Thompson had to be out in back-to-back years too.
The Warriors aren’t as terrible as they were last season, but it’s not saying a lot because they’re on shaky ground, in clear danger of not making the playoffs. The regular season only has 23 games left and the they’re all the way down to the 10th spot in the Western Conference at 23-25. They’ve also dropped six of their last seven games.
For some reason, the new core just isn’t clicking. Andrew Wiggins is decent, Eric Paschall is giving okay minutes off-the-bench, and Jordan Poole is showing flashes of his potential, but all the other guys are forgettable. Kelly Oubre Jr., in particular, is as inconsistent as they come. For small context, out of his 47 outings so far, he has 17 games of shooting 50% or better and 20 games shooting 39% or worse – the other 10 were in the middle.
Then, of course, there’s heralded rookie James Wiseman – the second overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft, the supposed prize from the previous season’s frustrating campaign, the future of the franchise, and all that.
Wiseman hasn’t been playing well and has become one of the many glaring holes that’s getting exposed regularly. Such was the case during Saturday’s “humiliating” 130-77 loss against the Toronto Raptors. In 31 minutes, he shot 4-for-11 for nine points and five rebounds, a far-cry from what his counterparts had.
While playing a starring tole on a marquee team is a tall task for Wiseman, who turned 20 years old just days ago, it’s not encouraging that he’s having too many duds. The struggles might be due to the pressure and a mixture of a whole lot of other things, but for his head coach, Steve Kerr, it’s simple:
Wiseman’s deteriorating play now have him only tallying in just 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game over his last 12 games. He has also earned a negative plus-minus in all but one of those contests, and in that aforementioned blowout defeat to the Raptors, he had a career-worst -37.
It’s concerning that the deemed future is showing little-to-no progress. Keep in mind that Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green are all 30 or older, while 20-somethings Wiggins and Oubre Jr. are there as temporary pieces more than anything.
With all that, discussions are beginning to emerge if the Warriors messed up their all-important 2020 pick. They didn’t just fail to package it for an All-Star (after all the hype), they might’ve used it on the wrong prospect too.
Let’s quickly run through some of Wiseman’s notable co-rookies:
The 2020 draft’s first overall pick, Anthony Edwards, is having fun with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though they are still in rebuild mode, Edwards is blossoming as a potential high-scoring guard. In fact, his superb play in March put him alongside elite company:
The pick after Wiseman, meanwhile, LaMelo Ball, has helped power former afterthoughts Charlotte Hornets into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Ball’s season is possibly be done due to a wrist fracture, but either way, his boost and all-around numbers of 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on the season are signs of a bright future.
A handful of other newbies have also been outshining the Warriors big man – Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings, Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks, and Saddiq Bey of the Detroit Pistons, just to name a few. Bey is looking like a future regular starter, while Haliburton and Quickley are contributors for possible surprise playoff teams.
Can the Warriors stay patient?
The Warriors selected Wiseman over other prospects because he’s expected to instantly fill a major need in the paint. They most probably opted to address a weakness, though, over drafting the best player available since one can easily argue that Ball, Haliburton, or a different rookie was the top available talent after Edwards. Imagine Ball leading the Warriors in the open floor, or Haliburton igniting the defense among other things.
Patience will have to be exercised for now, but don’t be surprised to see them pull the trigger if something interesting is in the table. The Curry-Thompson-Green era is on its last few runs, and the front office would want to squeeze something as much as they can and also ensure the franchise’s future.