Preview: Wiseman, Green are back, but won't be ready tonight against Kings
Outside shooting, defense, and a return to normalcy will be the priorities for Golden State
It’s game two of three in the abbreviated preseason, and the Golden State Warriors are headed up to Sacramento to take on the Sacramento Kings for the final pair of games before they start counting for real. This will be our first exposure to these new baseball-style series that will become the norm in the Corona-impacted 2020-21 NBA season; these two teams will play tonight, take a day off, and then play again Thursday.
Before we get to tonight’s game, it’s time to talk about two players that will not be appearing this evening…
Draymond Green and rookie James Wiseman make their first appearance
Both tested positive for Covid upon their arrival to Warriors training camp last week, but they are well on their way back to full health.
Okay, okay, calm down everyone!
Yes, the rookie looks amazingly agile initiating a fast break. He also looks good pulling down an offensive rebound in traffic and then converting the close-range bucket through contact. But these are a carefully curated selection of clips from one practice; not to be taken without a grain or two of salt.
Nonetheless, these glimpses are exactly the sort of intriguing flashes that led to Wiseman becoming the #2 overall pick, despite playing limited minutes in college.
7-foot-1 and 247-pounds, with a 9-foot-6 standing reach, and a 7-and-a-half foot wingspan, Wiseman is a big, big guy. The sort of insanely athletic, physical interior presence that the Warriors haven’t had since Wilt (and no, even at 7 feet tall, Joe Barry Carrol most definitely does not count).
According to early reports, neither Green nor Wiseman will be playing tonight - though don’t rule Thursday’s final preseason game out entirely!
When he does finally make his debut, it’s going to be extremely difficult to temper expectations of Wiseman. As Coach Steve Kerr quiped after practice, “[A] couple guys came off the floor, shook their heads and said, ‘Man, this guy is massive.'”
Via Anthony Slater of The Athletic, here’s the background on that alley-oop video that made the rounds on the internet yesterday afternoon:
“We had a drill where you have to get a stop and, if you get the stop, you take one trip down the floor,” Kerr said. “On defense, Draymond was talking James through the possession, their team made a stop, their team raced down the floor and it ended with Draymond throwing a lob to James for a dunk. It was a perfect snapshot of what we hope to see and what might be coming. The defensive synergy between those two and then the offensive connection.”
So, hopefully Wiseman (and Green) will be able to return on Thursday for the final preseason game. If not, then it doesn’t really change much - this is a team that is going to have to learn on the fly. One more new face (or not) doesn’t change that math in any significant way, not in the preseason.
That said, if you’ve got a flood coming and are trying to build a boat, you’d want was much time as possible. Already past the point of the best outcome, the sooner Green and Wiseman are ready, the better.
WHO: Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kangz
WHEN: Tuesday, December 15th 2020; 7pm PST
WATCH: TNT; NBCSBA
Blog Buddy: The Kings Herald
Building off a good first showing
Golden State won a close game against the Denver Nuggets to open the preseason, and will seek to continue their winning ways.
Of the starters, both Stephen Curry (rusty) and Andrew Wiggins (quiet) had off games. While neither one is expecially concerning - especially in the first game after an extended break - there are a lot of new faces on the Warriors. Getting in sync as a team will be a long process with so many new faces.
Outside of the big names, one player that will be of special interest is second-year combo forward, Eric Paschall. He was a standout performer last season, and is slotted in as a core bench player (along with Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore) - but he could easily become much more important than a simple bench cog.
Are the Kings still the Kangz?
Sacramento got a very nice young player when they picked Tyrese Halliburton at 12 in this year’s draft. After a bumpy first game, he pitched in a well-rounded performance (11 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 30 minutes) in the team’s last outing.
Paired with the speedy De’Aaron Fox, and a healthy Marvin Bagley, the Sacramento Kings seem to have finally stumbled into a core worth hanging on to - or have they?
Bogdan Bogdanovich would have seemed to fit in nicely, but in a very “Kangz” series of events, he was preemptively rumored to be involved in a sign and trade that would have sent him to the Milwaukee Bucks and returned… well, never mind what they were going to get back, because it never happened. So instead of getting somebody like Donte Divincenzo back, Bogdanovich ended up walking and leaving the Kings with nothing in return.
Bogdanovich was the team’s third leading scorer last season, and their second-best three-point shooter, so the loss will certainly be felt.
Likewise, young sharpshooter Buddy Heild, seems dissatisfied after being bumped into the second unit by coach Luke Walton, and has reportedly, possibly, requested a trade. It’s a mess, but one the Kings are going to apparently try to work through.
For now though, it’s “all systems go” in Sacramento. They’ve got a very young, very interesting team - they just need to hold it together and hope their main players develop.
Prediction: shootfest 2020!
The Warriors and Kings are both looking to play like James Harden. No, not the flopping part, just the fast pace with a propensity for three pointers. Also like Harden in a playoff elimination game, neither team has been especially adept at converting their shots so far this season.
The Warriors are a measly 27.5% from deep, and the Kings are an equally abysmal 30.3% from beyond the arc.
You know what they say: shooters got to shoot themselves out of a slump. So let ‘em rip!
Honestly, wins and losses don’t matter, not yet anyways.