Is James Wiseman Really the #1 Draft Prospect

This year’s NBA draft process has been especially strange for several reasons. Teams have been both over and under-evaluating all the prospects. Over-evaluating because scouts have had nothing to do all spring and summer; and under-evaluating because scouts and couches haven’t been able to physically meet or workout with potential draft picks.

While much has been left to the imagination, it’s easy to see that James Wiseman is the top prospect in this year’s draft. So much so, that this is indeed a one player draft. There’s Wiseman, and then there’s everybody else.

Wiseman is 7’1” and can move with quickness and ferocity. This means he can defend at the rim and in space around the perimeter. He can play like a guard or a big and his shooting isn’t bad. However, Wiseman does have a very small sample size of college games; 3. After his Memphis coach, Penny Hardaway, paid to help him move the NCAA forbid him from playing saying this was against the rules That ridiculousness aside, Wiseman has been on scouts’ radars for some time now, especially with the way the league is going. Big athletic players that can play like guards and bigs is the new commodity, look at Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. So let’s take a look at where this big talent could land.

Timberwolves

In fact, Towns is the only reason Wiseman probably won’t go number 1. If Wiseman does go to Minnesota, that will clearly show what the Wolves think of Towns’s defensive ability, the only area of his game that is lacking. There is a possibility of Minnesota taking him thinking they can run 2 bigs with Wiseman picking up Towns’s defensive slack. This is unlikely though as it would result in bad chemistry, forcing an eventual trade. Not to mention the fact that Wiseman has openly said he doesn’t want to play in Minnesota.

Warriors

The perfect fit for Wiseman is Golden State. The Warriors have a great coaching and development team and great players for him to learn from. As a rookie he can get time to play through his mistakes, and won’t be detrimental to the team’s success. Golden State’s stars are in their primes, drafting now and developing a star over the next few years will establish a continued timeline of winning similar to the Spurs development of Kawhi Leonard while Tim Duncan was at the end of his career. In this situation I would expect Wiseman to be a starter by the end of the season. 

Hornets

The other possibility for Wiseman is if a team trades up. Charlotte has expressed interest in him and has potential assets to trade into the number one spot. With this being a one player draft the Wolves may find interest in future Charlotte picks or pick swaps, seeing as they won’t be playoff bound in the near future. The Hornets want Wiseman because he’s talented, obviously, but would they develop him to his full potential? The Hornets don’t have a great track record of developing young talent and their last All-NBA player, Kemba Walker, left in free agency for less money. Sure he would be a starter immediately but it’s questionable if he would learn to develop into his full potential. In this situation I could see Wiseman being an Allstar but it’s questionable whether the Hornets would put good talent around him.

(Photo: Joe Rondone/USA Today)

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