Golden State Warriors’ James Wiseman needs to be unshackled in G League

Golden State Warriors’ center James Wiseman is now five games through his NBA G League stint in Santa Cruz. The former number two overall pick has shown some promising signs across the past fortnight, but Steve Kerr and the coaching staff would want to see more before reintroducing him to the main squad.

Through his five games, Wiseman is averaging 15 points and 9.6 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game, shooting 58.2% from the field including 28.6% from three-point range. The seven-footer is also averaging 1.2 blocks, with the defense and rebounding a key emphasis as he seeks to return to the Warriors lineup.

James Wiseman needs a circuit-breaker, a 25+ point game, to help catapult himself back towards the Golden State Warriors’ bench rotation.

The 21-year-old has been consistently solid, regularly posting numbers around his averages. But it’s also a slow burn, and these numbers aren’t necessarily popping off the page or inspiring huge levels of optimism among the Warrior fanbase. Wiseman needs a circuit-breaker, a big scoring game to stimulate confidence, even if the offense isn’t the preeminent issue.

Sure, earning praise from the coaching staff for box outs and solid defensive positioning is important, but Wiseman’s confidence could do with an explosion through a dominant offensive game. He, and fans for that matter, need to see that he’s too good for the level in a commanding performance that demands recall to the main squad.

In his last G League outing against the Stockton Kings, opposing center Neemias Queta had that type of performance — 38 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks on 12-for-14 shooting. It was he who looked like the lottery pick on assignment, while Wiseman was solid but not spectacular.

After the announcement that Wiseman was heading to Santa Cruz, teammate Jordan Poole told him it would be good to be able to go down there and “get as many shots as you want”. The reality is that hasn’t really been the case — 11 field goal attempts per game isn’t indicative of a number one or even two option.

Now, part of that is the situation he’s in, and the inability of the Warriors to put him in a position to be able to dominate. However, it’s also a mindset aspect with Wiseman’s lack of assertiveness and physicality a clear issue throughout his career to date.

We’ll get further evidence of Wiseman’s resilience and form when he and the Warriors meet Queta and the Kings on Friday at Stockton Arena.