Kevon Looney will open the 2022-23 season as the Golden State Warriors' starting center, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
“Loon will come back as the starter,” Kerr said. “He has earned that and then some. We’re all thrilled that he’s back. There was a real fear that we’d lose him. To get him back is massive for our team. It sets up well for Loon to continue what he did for us last year. In doing so, he’s really a good mentor for James [Wiseman].”
Looney signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract this offseason to return to Golden State, where he's spent his first seven NBA seasons. The veteran will be tasked with helping bring along Wiseman, the 2020 No. 2 overall pick who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds during a struggle-filled rookie season as the Warriors dealt with injuries across their roster. Kerr admitted he did not do a good enough job of coaching Wiseman, overcomplicating the responsibilities for the Memphis product.
The Warriors coach says he hopes coming off the bench and learning from Looney can allow Wiseman to settle in more easily.
“I think this will be a more natural progression for James, one that didn’t really happen his rookie year because of the situation,” Kerr said. “We felt like we needed to get him as much experience as possible, and Looney was coming off a season where he missed all that time with the nerve issues. So this seems much more natural, much more organic. Loon is the incumbent, the championship-starting center who has seen everything. Then you have James, who will learn from him and with him and will get his chances as we go. It’s a healthy growth situation for James.”
Wiseman was solid during his four-game stint at last month's Las Vegas Summer League, providing rim protection and stretching himself beyond the three-point arc. His three-point attempts were at about one per game as a rookie, and Wiseman could bring an extra dimension to the offense if he proves to be a capable shooter.
While Looney is comfortable playing alongside the Warriors' championship-winning core, he's very much a role player who fits best when playing 15-20 minutes per game. If Wiseman's development goes as hoped, it's possible—if not likely—he winds up supplanting Looney by the end of the regular season.