Expectations for James Wiseman on highly-anticipated return to the Golden State Warriors

SAITAMA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 30: James Wiseman #33 of the Golden State Warriors in action during the Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards - NBA Japan Games at the Saitama Super Arena on September 30, 2022 in Saitama, Japan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 30: James Wiseman #33 of the Golden State Warriors in action during the Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards - NBA Japan Games at the Saitama Super Arena on September 30, 2022 in Saitama, Japan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images) /
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The Golden State Warriors made a major announcement on Tuesday by revealing they’d recalled big man James Wiseman from the G League. The decision now looms as a critical moment in his short career, with the former number two overall pick having played seven games in three weeks with Santa Cruz.

There were high hopes that Wiseman could develop into a genuine rotational player for the Warriors come playoff time, but that faded quickly in 11 underwhelming games prior to his stint in the G League.

What can Golden State Warriors fans expect with James Wiseman returning to the team ahead of their clash with the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night?

The most poignant question is whether or not the 21-year-old can find a spot in Steve Kerr’s rotation? The short answer is ‘unlikely’ for reasons beyond just Wiseman himself. Kerr has found an effective bench combination over recent games, turning to Draymond Green to lead the Warriors second unit when Stephen Curry is off the floor.

That simply won’t be tampered with just to find minutes for someone returning from the G League. So, what alternative options are there for Wiseman? The JaMychal Green spot is perhaps his sole chance — a place that warrants 10-12 minutes a game playing the second half of first and third-quarters behind Kevon Looney.

The biggest issue is that many of those minutes also come with Jonathan Kuminga on the floor. Although the second-year forward has displayed greater consistency in recent games, and subsequently earnt greater trust from Kerr, the idea of Kuminga and Wiseman on the floor together is a nerve-racking one for all bar the opposing team.

Golden State Warriors’ James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga take the floor together against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors’ James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga take the floor together against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

But while Wiseman’s spot in the rotation looks non-existent, he will get his chance tonight when the Warriors face off against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena. Golden State will be without Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green, opening up the opportunity for Wiseman to showcase his development from the G League experience.

Wiseman could reappear in the Draymond minutes to once again partner with Jordan Poole at the start of the second and fourth-quarters. Depending on how the game pans out, he could foreseeably play 20+ minutes. Regardless of the score, there’s no such thing as garbage minutes for Wiseman right now.

His evaluation comes from the eye rather than simply looking at the boxscore — an area that can often appear decent based off raw numbers. It’s about the defense and rebounding — being physical, boxing out, contesting without fouling — all aspects coaches have been preaching to him. They’re the facets Looney excels in, making him a valuable contributor even if the boxscore numbers don’t explode off the page.

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While often times a controversial statistic, the plus-minus numbers might give the biggest indication of Wiseman’s value. Golden State simply can’t be tanking in the minutes he’s on the floor and if they are, there’ll be no spot for him in the rotation and his future at the franchise could well be on borrowed time.