Main Scouting Report
James Wiseman is one of the most intriguing NBA prospects in a long time because he has little to no tape on his game outside of high school. Wiseman was the number one recruit in college basketball but was suspended for the rest of the season after only playing 3 games due to receiving improper benefits from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway. Instead of appealing the decision, Wiseman decided to focus solely on training for the NBA draft.
Despite the lack of elite competition, Wiseman still looks like the real deal and will most likely be the first big man taken in the draft this year. He has a rare combination of extreme length and speed, making him a menace on the defensive end and be an effective rim runner and a threat in the pick and roll as the roll man. Wiseman is 7’1 with a 7’5 wingspan, making him the biggest player in the draft by far, and will be intriguing to see which team wants to take the risk on him.
However, the NBA is trending away from prioritizing the traditional big man role, and Wiseman’s position within the draft could be hurt by that. Teams will look for an impact player on the wing or guard position rather than taking a center. Wiseman has the potential to be an All-Defense player year in and year out, so he still has value, but without a strong jumper, Wiseman will ultimately be seen as a liability on the offensive end. I think Wiseman still has value as a roller who can develop a jump shot through his career. Offensively, Wiseman reminds me a lot of Clint Capela, but has the potential to develop a jumper and could become a player like Serge Ibaka while being a great defensive anchor for a long time.
For Wiseman, his main appeal is his tremendous upside and potential to be one of the best defensive players in the league. Wiseman has a 7’5 wingspan and stands at 7’1, making him a great rim protector that can serve as the last line of defense for a team, similar to how Rudy Gobert plays for the Jazz. Wiseman showed a plethora of post moves as well in his short college stint, showing that he has the foot speed to be an elite big man at the next level to couple with his length.
Wiseman could hit mid-range jumpers with some consistency, but I have worries about him being able to consistently shoot at the next level. I am generally skeptical of the shooting ability of big men until I am proven wrong, and Wiseman simply has not played enough to reassure me that he can be a reliable shooter. However, I could very easily be proven wrong because he has such a good-looking jumper for someone his size. In the clip below, Wiseman shows how much value he provides on both ends, and why he will most likely be a top 5 pick this year.
In just three college viewings James Wiseman really displayed what makes him such an intriguing post prospect. Great physical tools, can switch on defense & block shots. Offensively catches lobs, scores in post & has upside as a shooter.
19.7pts, 10.7rebs, 3.0blks in 23.0 MPG. pic.twitter.com/hXPkziARAO
— Travis Branham (@TravisBranham_) March 23, 2020
Again, it is difficult to definitively say what Wiseman’s weaknesses are because he only has 3 games outside of the high school level. However, there are many parts of the game that Wiseman needs to improve on drastically before he can become a legitimate starting center in the NBA. In pick and roll defense, Wiseman often times looked lost and could not hedge the screen or recover onto his man despite having a speed and length advantage over the other players. In the clip below, Wiseman left his guard out to dry in the pick and roll, letting the opposing guard walk into the lane and get an easy assist. In an NBA that predicates perfect pick and roll defense from big men, Wiseman could be a liability in the pick and roll.
Brutal pick-and-roll defense from James Wiseman pic.twitter.com/huOjZynWsz
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 30, 2019
Wiseman is an ultra-athletic big man that has shown the ability to shoot the ball from time to time and has the length that is unheard of for someone with those traits. On defense, I see Wiseman having the same crucial role as Hassan Whiteside or Brook Lopez had this year as elite rim protectors. Wiseman is taller and longer than Lopez, and is more athletic than Whiteside, meaning he could be a better defender than either of those players and be an annual lock on the all-defense teams.
If Wiseman reaches his full potential on the offensive end, there is not a good comparison for him in the league. He would have a similar impact as Serge Ibaka but is big enough to play as the center and be able to stretch the floor very well, like Ibaka. As far as centers in the NBA right now, Wiseman would be similar to DeAndre Ayton on the offensive side of the ball if he can be a consistent threat in the pick and pop while being a much better defender than Ayton will be. Personally, I think Wiseman reaches that level on his offensive game, while being one of the best rim protectors in the league.
Ever since the Warriors began to tank after Steph Curry went down, people have said that Wiseman would be perfect for them. Since the beginning of their dynasty in 2015, the Warriors have not had a quality center to pair with their lethal guards and wings and often resorted to their patented small-ball lineup in crucial spots. If they were able to draft Wiseman, the pressure on Draymond Green would lessen significantly, and Wiseman would be the center that the Warriors have not had. However, I think there is a very real chance that the Warriors will trade their pick this year for another asset to win immediately, and Wiseman will go elsewhere.
Of the other teams within the top of the lottery, only a few will legitimately take a look at drafting a center because of the shift in the NBA’s playstyle. I could see a team like Atlanta or Cleveland taking Wiseman despite having the center spot set because they do not have those players locked down longterm and Wiseman could be a cheap upgrade for them.
Other teams within the top 7 in the lottery may look at other positions of need, causing him to slip, but Wiseman is too enticing and has too much upside to fall too far. Wiseman is a top 3 talent in this draft class but plays at the position of least importance. However, I genuinely do not see a way where Wiseman drops out of the top 7 or 8 picks, barring some massive change in his stock prior to the draft.
Basketball IQ: 7
Wiseman seems like a smart player but does not have a lot of game tape out there to change his rating.
Wiseman did not stay in college with his team after he was suspended by the NCAA.
Wiseman is an athletic freak that has long arms and can be an elite rim protector.
Wiseman has the shooting touch and athleticism to be an elite big man in the NBA.
Wiseman showed that he can shoot some mid-range jumpers, but there is not a lot of tape on his jumper.
Wiseman looks to be an average creator from the big man position.
Wiseman looks to be an average dribbler from the big man position.
Wiseman’s elite length and leaping ability will make him a great rebounder.
Wiseman was inconsistent effort-wise on defense while at Memphis.
Wiseman is a great rim protector but was inconsistent effort-wise in the pick and roll.
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