The NBA G League has been a huge success over the past few years as it paved the way for numerous underappreciated talents to make their mark and eventually earn a spot on an NBA roster.
Often teams have their players on two-way contracts, and sometimes players who get into the second round of the draft play in the G League to gain more experience and hone their craft, but very rarely do we see draft- First-round picks spend a lot of time in the G League.
Not only is it rare to see a first-round pick down there, it’s almost unheard of for a recent runner-up still under their rookie contract to be in the G League, unless he is working his way back from an injury .
That was the case with James Wiseman last month, however, when the Golden State Warriors sent him to the Santa Cruz Warriors on Nov. 15 for more practice and playing time.
While many saw this as a “demotion” for Wiseman, it’s not such an unusual move for the Warriors as they have one of the best development systems in the entire league and have had a ton of success sending off young talent who don’t have enough playing time at the NBA level up to the G League to work on their overall games.
Jordan Poole is just one example of a player on the Golden State roster who spent time in the G League early in his career.
Of course, Wiseman would rather play for the Warriors in the NBA, but playing with Santa Cruz has really helped the young center with his confidence and skill.
“I focus on improving in the small areas, just one percent better every day. Put up screens, get to the dunker, better protect the rim,” Wiseman recently told reporters after being recalled to the NBA on Tuesday. “I feel like I’m getting my rhythm and confidence back… I went out there, worked hard, just tried to get better, had so much fun out there. Probably too much fun.”
From one of the country’s top recruits from high school to Memphis, where he only played in three games before being ruled ineligible, to a meniscus injury during his rookie season in the NBA to setbacks trying to get Wiseman back , who was on the ground a season ago, has been through a lot that has stunted his overall growth as a player.
This time he spent in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors was badly needed for him not only from a developmental point of view but also from a maturity point of view, especially since James Wiseman is only 21 years old.
“I’m so much more grateful and cherishing this moment now to be back up here,” Wiseman said. “I’m just grateful to be playing at this level again, also as I’ve been in a small hotel room for the last two weeks doing nothing, I’m just grateful to be back up here in a big hotel, again in a great bed lie.”
Wiseman played in the Warriors’ final game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, but he logged just 5 minutes and had just 3 points on 1-2 shooting. He also grabbed 2 rebounds in that game.
Head coach Steve Kerr seems happy and confident with his rotations at the moment and while Wiseman will certainly get some playing time, they recently sent him back to the G League after their last game, suggesting the team is still looking to get around maximize the playing time and reps Wiseman can get.
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