Warriors’ last three top picks have big opportunity ahead originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Coming off their fourth championship in the past eight seasons behind the Big Three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors’ focus now can turn to the future.
First comes the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night where the Warriors own the No. 28 pick, the No. 51 pick and No. 57 pick. The NBA Summer League looks to be even more important than the draft for Golden State, with the assumption that all three of the Warriors’ most recent lottery picks will be on the court.
The last time James Wiseman spoke with the media, the former No. 2 overall pick said there was a 90-percent chance that he’ll participate in summer league. It appears that percentage is on the rise, and general manager Bob Myers said Wednesday to reporters he expects Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to all play summer league games at some point.
Whether that’s during the California Classic at Chase Center or in Las Vegas is still to be determined. The California Classic will take place July 2 and July 3, and the Warriors will play July 8th, 10th, 12th and 15th at the least in Las Vegas.
“He’ll scrimmage with our guys,” Myers said of Wiseman. “He’s going to start doing live stuff. All indications are good.
“Kuminga and Moody are planning to play as well, so I don’t foresee that changing. It’ll just depend on how many games, which ones they play in, but they’re all planning on playing, which we think is great. We think they should. It’s going to be a long stretch from the guys that show up here for the Cal Classic. I don’t know that all those guys will play all the way through.
“But I think of those three, you’re going to see all of them at one time or another in summer league.”
Wiseman’s rookie campaign in 2020-21 was cut short after 39 games — 27 starts — due to a meniscus tear in his right knee. Due to complications, he missed all of this past season. The 21-year-old center still hasn’t played in summer league and still hasn’t had a training camp with the Warriors.
Everything appears to be positive in the present regarding Wiseman’s current health. He worked out at the Warriors facility Tuesday and the plan was for another workout to take place Wednesday. Coach Steve Kerr later told reporters Wednesday that he had a conversation earlier in the day with Rick Celebrini, the Warriors’ director of sports medicine and performance, and all indications are that Wiseman is “coming along well.”
The Warriors on March 25 ruled Wiseman out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs after experiencing swelling in his right knee. That came after playing three G League games for the Santa Cruz Warriors. In those three games, Wiseman averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
At 7-foot tall with limited game experience, Wiseman is full of raw potential. He scored 19 points in his NBA debut when he was only 19 years old, and 18 points in his second game. Wiseman scored at least 20 points twice in his injury-shortened rookie season, and scored 15 points or more 11 times.
Kerr wants to see something more than offensive potential from Wiseman this summer. The coach knows that’s there, and also knows there’s more to becoming a complete player and contributing to a title contender.
“I think defensive recognition of patterns and rebounding, that’s what we can use from him the most,” Kerr said Wednesday. “Going forward, with his talent, with his size and athleticism, there’s no reason why he can’t be a dominant defensive player in the league. But it takes a lot of reps. It takes a lot of recognition. It takes a lot of being on the court with nine other people, not just being in a one-on-one workout or in the weight room.
“Hopefully — knock on wood — hopefully he gets healthy and gets to start putting those reps together and develops into a fine defensive center. That would be the idea. You see how gifted he is offensively. He’s a lob threat. He’s a good shooter. It’s all there for him.
“But he needs a break. He needs some things to go his way health-wise, and like I said, so far, so good, and we’re hoping that things continue to improve.”
Kuminga and Moody both exceeded expectations as rookies. Moody didn’t turn 20 years old until May 31, and Kuminga was 19 all season long. Each contributed valuable minutes in the regular season and the playoffs. It’s clear how high the Warriors view their futures.
Expediting those futures begins now. They have the benefit of already knowing what it takes to win it all and should be hungry for another championship parade. Whether it be in summer league games or offseason training, these next few months will be big for the Warriors’ two lottery picks from one year ago.
Inside the Warriors’ building, and perhaps even more outside of it, the outlook of the Warriors’ future is sky-high with players like Wiseman, Kuminga, Moody and Jordan Poole — who took a major leap at 22 years old in Year 3.
Now it’s up to Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody to take the kind of step forward that Poole did, keeping the Warriors’ dynasty as strong as ever.
“It’s all set up well, but now we’ve got to go do it,” Kerr said. “It’s exciting.”