Through much of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors have remained in the playoff picture. Stephen Curry‘s play has been awe-inspiring, which has shined a greater light on his importance to their long-term plans. Beyond that, Curry’s performance has led to some concerning comments from head coach Steve Kerr about prized big man James Wiseman.
Warriors pushing toward playoff contention
Before the 2020-21 season began, the Warriors received a devastating disappointment as Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL.
Golden State pushed through that with Stephen Curry leading a largely youthful roster to hover around the playoff picture. The Warriors are not viewed as title contenders by any means, but there is bubbling attention around their younger talent, which led head coach Steve Kerr to make some stirring comments about James Wiseman’s future.
Stephen Curry may have indirectly led the Warriors to a concerning admission regarding James Wiseman
The Warriors have hovered around the playoff picture throughout this season, which has seen their youth play a substantial part.
The bulk of that attention was focused on the growth of prized rookie big man James Wiseman, who has experienced notable ups and downs this year. Wiseman saw his rookie campaign come to a premature end due to a torn right meniscus suffered in early April.
During a recent interview with 95.7 The Game’s Damon, Rattoo & Kolsky Show, Kerr voiced that he’s unsure if Wiseman’s development will line up with Stephen Curry’s timeline in Golden State.
“Big guys take longer to develop than guards — it’s just a fact,” Kerr said via NBC Sports Bay Area. “So 100% when we picked him, it was, ‘This guy is really talented and he’s a great kid.’ However long it takes, he’s gonna be well worth the pick.
“And I know we can further the conversation and say, ‘What about the timeline with Steph and Draymond [Green] and Klay and what does that mean.’ And those are valid questions.
“Can we get James up to speed quick enough to match the timeline with our three core guys? And that’s a great question. And we don’t know the answer. But when you go into a draft and you see someone who potentially is a generational talent, then that’s a decision you have to make.”
That alone speaks to how much ground Wiseman has to cover to be a high-impact player for a team aiming to get back into NBA title contention.
He entered the NBA behind the eight ball without much experience against higher competition following only three collegiate games. Now, his knee injury will prevent him from garnering more much-needed exposure in his rookie campaign.
Wiseman showed flashes of potential in 39 games this season, averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 51.9% shooting from the floor in 21.4 minutes per contest. But the steep learning curve ahead will test whether he’s a long-term piece of the puzzle.
Golden State operating solely around Stephen Curry’s future
What Steve Kerr’s comments speak to more than anything else is that the Warriors remain focused on building around Stephen Curry.
The two-time league MVP is playing some of the best basketball of his career. His play has essentially carried the Warriors into playoff contention.
Curry will be eligible for a four-year deal worth north of $200 million next offseason. Golden State will likely shell out whatever is necessary to keep its star guard in the fold as he will anchor the efforts to rebuild toward championship contention.
More importantly, it underlines the urgency in James Wiseman’s development if he hopes to remain a long-term fixture. He will have every opportunity to showcase his ability; it’s on his shoulders to make that next leap forward.