Warriors owner Joe Lacob wants to be clear: Drafting James Wiseman wasn’t just

The Golden State Warriors are nearing the three-year mark of their James Wiseman project, and it’s not going well. The 2020 second-overall pick is yet to earn a regular place in the rotation, let alone the starting lineup, and was relegated to the G League for a period earlier this season. 

Hindsight is 20-20. We all know the players the Warriors could’ve taken in place of Wiseman, starting with LaMelo Ball, who went one pick later to the Hornets. Onyeka Okongwu would be a massive help to Golden State right now. Devin Vassell would be good for any team. Tyrese Haliburton is a franchise player. Tyrese Maxey. Desmond Bane. All of these guys and more are good to potentially great players in the league already. 

It’s not fair to talk about the players that went later in the draft. There are always surprises. Nobody drafting at No. 2 in 2020 would have been looking at a Vassell or a Maxey or a Bane. But Ball. Haliburton. Okongwu. These were guys in legit conversations among all teams at the top. This is to say nothing of the trade value that No. 2 pick had to Golden State. 

But the Warriors loved Wiseman. Notably, owner Joe Lacob, who is central in footing the bill (which could balloon well north of $400 million next season), loved him. A few months after the Warriors made it official with Wiseman, in November of 2020, Lacob had this to say to The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami:

“To be honest with you, he was my No. 1 forever, basically. I just think he’s a once-in-a-decade kind of guy. I would argue that, other than [Joel] Embiid, I don’t know that there’s another center prospect that’s come along in the last decade that you would put in the same category. Different players, maybe. But this guy is immensely talented. …

“When you see him in person, it’s pretty compelling. And when we watched him do his workout, it’s pretty compelling. … Some of the things he does on the court for a guy his size, he’s very mobile, really good ball-handling for someone his size. Anyone who says he can’t shoot is crazy. He can shoot. He’s going to get better; he can shoot. And he’s obviously going to be a very good defender. He’s going to be a rim protector and shot blocker, so there’s a heckuva lot of things to like. And I just think he’s a great fit as well with what we needed and with our team.”

This was merely one of the first glowing remarks about Wiseman’s potential over the first few years of his Warriors tenure, not just from Lacob, but from anyone and everyone in the organization with a voice, from players to coaches to Bob Myers and front office folks. They painted this guy’s talent and potential with almost otherworldly colors. Looking at him through such optimistic lenses, Wiseman did provide a few early flashes that lent at least some credibility to Golden State’s hyperbolic enthusiasm. 

But those days are pretty much gone. And now that the Wiseman experiment is on…

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Read More: Warriors owner Joe Lacob wants to be clear: Drafting James Wiseman wasn’t just 2023-01-05 20:18:18

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