Wiseman is still a bright spot in all this ugly basketball

The highlight of the Warriors’ 25-point loss to the Blazers: James Wiseman is ok! The bad: Well ... everything else ...

The short story of the Golden State Warriors’ 123-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers is that they just looked completely out of sync.

The longer story of the first game with Draymond Green in the starting lineup was pretty much summed up by what jzalvarado described at halftime in our game thread last night:

Gonna be hard to win this game just based on the officiating (assuming their 3 point shooting evens out). Portland/Lillard taking full advantage. Warriors started doing so a bit in the second quarter. First game where Wiseman looks like a rookie BUT that move WOW

The Warriors were down 12 at halftime after the second unit rallied to them back from a 20-point deficit, but it still felt like it was going to be difficult to win the game. Unfortunately, not much changed from there except that things got considerably worse — the 3-point shooting never evened out, the Blazers’ aggression going to the basket continued to pay off, and the Warriors ended up getting pummeled. The one bright spot was Wiseman continuing to show flashes of his enormous potential throughout the game, but then he turned his angle while trailing Steph Curry in transition with only a few minutes left in a game that was already lost.

Thankfully, early reports are that Wiseman will be fine so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Suffice it to say that this season would be excruciating to watch without Wiseman on the court — both for his actual impact on the game and the excitement around his future potential — so his play and the fact that he’s ok is the biggest bright spot of the game.

The big takeaway about Wiseman for me is that it’s clear that Green is absolutely right about him: he doesn’t really know what he’s doing out there, but he’s somehow still able to make his presence felt. That’s fairly remarkable for any rookie. And he’s just 19-years-old. And he barely played any college ball. So we have a gem here and even in the face of an ugly loss like that one, I somehow stayed with the game just to watch the kid play.

Statistically, he didn’t do much in tonight’s game, but I wouldn’t let that diminish the flashes of potential he did show:

  • He got the first bucket of the game for the Warriors with a jumper off a screen in rhythm from the top of the key.

  • He got another coast-to-coast opportunity, which included a behind-the-back dribble, but he lost control and it ended with an offensive foul.

  • He showed some aggression on the boards tonight even though his positioning and timing still just seems off.

  • You can definitely see his potential to become a real rim protector for the Warriors and it feels like forever since they’ve had a reliable shot blocker to anchor the paint.

Yes, the frustration with the passing, shooting, offense, and defense (pretty sure that covers … everything) is valid, but this was going to be a tough year no matter what without Klay Thompson. We have to watch these games with an eye toward the future, a future with Thompson and possibly another talented draft pick if things continue to go the way they did tonight. Wiseman slowly unveiling new dimensions to his game every night is enough to keep watching in that context.

This still just wasn’t a great way to start off 2021.


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