James Wiseman, former Memphis Tiger is a projected top lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Of course, COVID-19 has pushed back both the Draft Lottery and actual Draft itself several months. We will be seeing the lottery in August while the actual draft takes place in October. Where Wiseman ends up being drafted will be heavily impacted by the draft order.
In most scouting reports, Wiseman has been projected in the Top 3 picks. However, many feel he is the best player in 2020 NBA Draft class.
The University of Memphis standout is a 7 foot-1 inch Center who is capable of playing the Power Forward spot. One thing that most will run into when evaluating Wiseman's ability is that scouting reports on him seem to differ, sometimes, wildly. One scout will say he is capable of being a bit like Karl Anthony Towns while others project DeAndre Jordan-level skills.
His biggest asset is his ability on defense, as he is an incredible shot-blocker. He can also rebound very well on defensive side but also on the offensive side of the ball. During his last season at Memphis, he averaged 6 defensive rebounds per game with 4 to 5 offensive rebounds. This allowed him to average 10 to 11 total rebounds per game to add to his average of 3 blocks per game.
While some believe his height helps him with this, it's actually only part of the reasoning. Wiseman's incredible wingspan seems to be the true factor that helps him stand out. While he might be 7'1 in height, his wingspan is 7 feet-6 inches. This gives him one heck of an edge over other players.
PROBLEM JAMES WISEMAN FACES THAT STEM FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO MEMPHIS
One clear problem James Wiseman will have to deal with is the fact that he did not play a lot of college basketball. This is pretty much down to his Head Coach at Memphis, former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway. Penny was actually Wiseman's High School coach too, at Memphis East High School. Due to his success and the fact that he graduated from Memphis, Hardaway was offered the Head Coaching job at his alma mater.
It made complete sense to have Wiseman go with him to Memphis as he had already developed a key relationship with the kid, and he was clearly a 5-star recruit anyway. However, the problem came into play when the NCAA found out about Penny paying a little over $11,000 to help Wiseman and his family move to the area. This is a violation of NCAA rules, which Penny being a new coach was unlikely to know about.
It resulted in possible ineligibility but thankfully lawyers and a judge stepped in to prevent the NCAA from ruling him ineligible over the incident. However, it was eventually agreed that Wiseman would miss 12 games and return in January to play. However, Wiseman was ticked off and done with this by 7 games in and claimed he was going to hire an agent and leave Memphis.
We only saw him play 3 college games!
Of course, as we know, even if Wiseman wanted to finish out the season, the COVID-19 pandemic would have kept him from playing in the NCAA Tournament, often referred to as the "March Madness Tournament." Even several conference tournaments were ended early without a winner. As a result of all of this, Wiseman never played a full season in college and did not get to test his skills in the tournament. While several others did not either, Wiseman played less than any other top prospect entering the 2020 NBA Draft outside of international players.
This has put a question mark on his true ceiling since we only have a bit of information on him. We know he's good, but how good can he truly be?
SIZE DOES MATTER
James Wiseman may have a killer wingspan and be above 7 feet in height, but a few month ago he was actually kind small in the weight department for his NBA position. Coming into Memphis Wiseman weighed in at around 240lbs. Of course, he is only 19 years old and will continue to add more meat to his bones. However, if he does not maintain his added muscle and some fat, he could get pushed around and dominated by NBA forwards and centers.
To be fair about Wiseman's size, even Wiseman himself saw this as an area he needed to improve. This is why he has been attempting to bulk up pretty much ever since deciding to jump to the NBA. In fact, back in February, he was able to add on at least seven pounds. He has added a bit more since then too. This is all well before he gets a chance to work with NBA trainers who could really help him.
He'll still keep the body-frame that allows him to move around low-post defenders. At the same time, he can now back down NBA-level defenders he'll go up against. Great defenders on the inside, such as a DeAndre Jordan type that Wiseman is compared to, managed to gain an advantage because of his size.
Jordan is currently 265lbs and just under 7 feet. Therefore, Wiseman holding more weight could do well against guys like Jordan and others similar to him.
However, his size does not actually affect his draft stock a lot, according to most scouts. That is generally due to the fact that this can always improve with great NBA trainers. Plus he has taken the initiative to improve on a potential area of weakness.
WHAT JAMES WISEMAN HAS TO CONTEND WITH ENTERING THE NBA DRAFT
Ultimately, James Wiseman is talented and believed to have a good upside. He's a big man who has remained pretty healthy barring a minor shoulder injury. On top of that, NBA trainers can help him beef up to handle the NBA schedule and athletes he'll be seeing on a weekly basis. He is a freak athlete who could become a great player.
Wiseman comes in with a lot of defensive upside but there is no reason he could not become a better offensive threat. In college, he averaged around 19 points per game. This proves he can score on the inside, but in High School, he proved he could shoot mid-range jumpers with some great success too.
However, LaMello Ball and Anthony Edwards are the two other top prospects in this draft. Both come in with loads of potential and could easily fit a few of the lottery teams picking early. However, they have the problem of being guards while many lottery teams have these positions relatively set.
Yet that is not the case with big forwards and centers, which most of those teams could utilize. This is why most believe that Wiseman will go Number One Overall regardless of who is there. It does make sense to assume due to what we just mentioned above.
JAMES WISEMAN COULD LAND ANYWHERE
There are a lot of interesting possibilities for James Wiseman and the numerous lottery teams picking early. Those teams are, in no particular order, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns. Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, & Portland Trail Blazers.
Literally, every single team just mentioned could utilize James Wiseman.
However, the most intriguing landing spots are the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Hornets. Each could use a great low-post defender who can score when needed. Imagine pairing him up with the young Hawks team that is loaded with potential. How about throwing him on the Hornets or Knicks where he can be paired with some emerging talent?
Yet if there are two places we feel that are the best for him, it's the Timberwolves and Warriors. Just to see what Wiseman could do alongside Karl Anthony Towns could be fun. KAT could permanently move to the Power Forward spot, which would allow Wiseman to play the Center role. He could take some pressure of KAT defensively, giving Towns more freedom.
Plus, if the Wolves did end up losing Towns to free agency, they have a built-in replacement for him with Wiseman who would be on a lower-end contract for a while.
JAMES WISEMAN WARRIORS' NEXT ADDITION?
The landing spot most seem to be interested in is Golden State. They had a down season this past year, which was due to numerous injuries and problems adjusting. Kevin Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson had to miss the entire season due to injury. Steph Curry missed months of action as well, and even Draymond Green was not free from this.
If you bring everyone back, healthy, you pretty much have an all-star line-up that is playoff-bound again. This is without Wiseman there at all. They'll have Curry & Green both back and healthy, along with a healthy Klay. These are the three men that helped to lead the Warriors to the NBA Finals two years in a row and to the best record in league history! They even won an NBA Championship together.
Yet they are not coming back alone, as they traded for Andrew Wiggins, a former number one overall pick. They also have Kevin Looney & possibly Marquese Criss coming back too. That's a team with potential!
If you add in James Wiseman to this Warriors squad, it's big for a few reasons.
First, it takes a ton of pressure off of him because Wiseman will not be expected to lead the Warriors or be their top star on either side of the ball. Second, he could learn what it takes to improve upon his defensive skills from guys like Green and both Steph & Klay could help him improve his shooting ability.
He'd be expected to do what he is already good at and simply improve organically. It would literally be an opportunity that could do wonders for the big man out of Nashville, Tennessee. The spotlight would not be all over him and he could spend his time getting better with a team that will be competing for titles every year he is there from the start.
If Wiseman is even a fraction of what scouts think he will be, the Warriors would be getting a huge asset. However, we could say the same about most teams that would land Wiseman too.