The world has seemed to have forgotten how elite of a center James Wiseman is. During his brief time at Memphis, the top-ranked recruit of the 2019 class showed that he was a dominant player, who was bigger, stronger and more physical than everyone else. Wiseman is anticipated to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft, projected to go as high as No. 1. Wherever the freshman lands, expected him to be a very impactful contributor with his new team.
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There’s a reason why Wiseman is the best center in this year’s NBA Draft. The 7-foot-1 teenager brings dominance to the game. He has a nice build and great length, and uses his strength against opposing bigs under the basket. It’s almost impossible to defend him in the paint. He has solid hands, a great catch radius, and is quick off the floor to grab lobs and offensive rebounds. He moves well, making him a threat not only on cuts and rolls in the half-court, but also in transition. He also shows good footwork in the post, and is capable of knocking down face-up and fadeaway jumpers.
During his brief stint at Memphis, Head Coach Penny Hardaway made sure to make Wiseman the centerpiece of the team. The lefty averaged 19.6 points per game on 76 percent shooting. He also averaged 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, and 1.41 points per possession (PPP), which put him at the 100th percentile in Division I. Additionally, he produced an outstanding player efficiency rating of 50.4. Wiseman’s college career lasted just three games; only one of those contests was against high-level competition (Oregon), but his numbers were impressive, nonetheless.
Looking at the stat sheet, Wiseman had a usage rate of 27.79 on the season. On nearly every possession, the ball was in his hands, attracting the defense’s attention. He had only one assist in his three games, but with that type of gravity, plus more experience and coaching, he would have undoubtedly found his teammates for a number of easy looks had his season progressed.
Wiseman took just six jump shots in his three college games, making three, but five of the six were in or around the paint — he missed his only 3-point attempt. In his last year of AAU ball, he made 50 percent of his threes (8 of 16 in ten games), and he was solid from the free-throw line at Memphis, making 70.4 of his attempts (19 of 27), both of which are positive signs for future success from deep.
The defensive end of the court is where Wiseman will have an immediate impact on the next level. In my opinion, the young lefty shows many similarities to NBA player Dwight Howard on defense. Being quick off the floor and having a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Wiseman should be an elite rebounder and shot blocker. He is an active rim protector, and he displays the ability to move well laterally and switch effectively. With this skill set, Wiseman could be a defensive anchor in the NBA, with the potential to win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards.
The best destination for Wiseman is, indeed, the Golden State Warriors. Playing in an unselfish culture with teammates such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Memphis product will have the opportunity to grow and be a part of a winning culture. It’s almost glaring that the Warriors should choose Wiseman with the second overall pick, and there shouldn’t be a debate about it.
Wiseman will become a threat right away in the NBA, especially on defense, and in a few years, his name will be associated with the best big men in the league. Hopefully, he will continue to grow his offensive game by scoring beyond the paint and finding teammates with open looks, and there would be no better place for that to happen than Golden State.
— Nick Andre
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Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.