Worst Starter No. 1 – James Wiseman
When you first read the headline of this piece, perhaps you pictured another player; one of the doomed spot starters from the 2019-20 season, or the much-maligned D’Angelo Russell (who was bad relative to his contract and the cost to acquire him, but halfway decent when viewed objectively). In reality, however, the worst Warriors starter from the Stephen Curry era has to be James Wiseman.
We’ll set aside for the moment the waste of resources drafting Wiseman second overall; can you imagine a Warriors team with LaMelo Ball, or even Onyeka Okongwu or Obi Toppin? What if they had traded down, as many were encouraging them to do, and taken Tyrese Haliburton? A Knicks deal for Mitchell Robinson and No. 8 was actually discussed!
Sorry, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Setting aside the cost to acquire him, Wiseman’s play on the court was spectacularly bad. When he took the court the Warriors’ offense and defense got markedly worse; Cleaning the Glass estimates his on/off impact to be in the first percentile leaguewide. That’s as low as it gets!
Despite playing on teams with winning records and positive point differentials, in his 27 starts the Warriors were outscored by 159 points, or 5.9 points per game. He had twice as many turnovers as assists in those 27 games and somehow shot under 50 percent from the field as a center playing with the likes of Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and the other shooters on the team. Despite boasting phenomenal size, he couldn’t (still can’t) figure out how to play NBA defense, skying for some blocks but otherwise standing out of position and moving entirely without basketball instincts.
Perhaps there is still a chance that James Wiseman puts it all together and finds a way to marry his physical potential with his actual ability. It became clear to the Warriors, however, that there was no hope of him helping them win during the remainder of Curry’s prime. His performance made him the unquestioned Worst Starter of the Stephen Curry era.