Amid all the uncertainty regarding the fate of the 2019-20 NBA season and the offseason activities that normally take place in the summer, the Golden State Warriors are heading into the second month of the league’s hiatus as one of the worst teams in terms of win-loss record. This puts them in a good position for a potentially high pick in this year’s draft, and as a new report suggests, Memphis center James Wiseman could be the team’s top priority due to their lack of depth in the middle.
In a detailed report on the Warriors’ outlook for the 2020-21 season and beyond, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher cited an unnamed league source, who said that Golden State has the 7-foot-1-inch Wiseman “at the top of their draft board.” As further explained, this is “understandable,” as the Warriors have only one seven-footer on their roster in power forward Dragan Bender, plus 6-foot-9-inch Kevon Looney as their only official center. Bender, a former No. 4 overall draft pick, was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts shortly before the NBA suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 11.
Despite Wiseman’s status as a potential first-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Memphis freshman comes with a lot of question marks. As pointed out by Bucher, Wiseman played only three games for the Tigers in the 2019-20 NCAA season and decided to leave school instead of serving a 12-game suspension for accepting money from someone who was then considered a booster — current Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway. His perceived lack of competitiveness was also cited as a potential red flag by an Eastern Conference “talent evaluator” who spoke to Bleacher Report.
“He doesn’t play hard enough. But he makes sense. They don’t need him to be great. If he goes some place and has to be Trae [Young] or Ja [Morant], he’s not that. But if [the Warriors’] top four are back, he can be Harrison Barnes, a good fifth player.”
— Overtime (@overtime) April 25, 2020
Separately, NBC Sports Bay Area noted that Bucher didn’t bring up Marquese Chriss, a former No. 8 overall draft pick who seemed to be poised for a breakout season after he replaced Willie Cauley-Stein — who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in January — as the Warriors’ starting center. The outlet also cited NBC Sports college basketball writer Rob Dauster, who said earlier this year that many have questioned whether Wiseman truly “loves basketball.”
Dauster did add, however, that Wiseman’s supposed lack of competitiveness could be addressed if he ends up with the Warriors, who are expected to have superstar guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson healthy for the 2020-21 season, with forward Draymond Green also returning as a remnant from the Golden State teams that won three NBA championships in the 2010s.