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James Wiseman: Kevin Durant Has Shared Advice About Fitting in Warriors' System

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, left, greets injured Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman said Monday he's in contact with the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant "every day," and they often talk about how to fit in the Dubs' system.

Wiseman also mentioned KD's Nets teammate Kyrie Irving as another player who's helped him make the transition to the NBA:

Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater

James Wiseman said he talks regularly to Kevin Durant: "We talk about the system, how he was able to fit into the system here." Also mentioned some useful advice from Kyrie Irving. Full soundbite here. https://t.co/eEd2EDiBSK

Expectations were high after Golden State selected the 7-foot post player with the second overall pick in the 2020 draft. He seemed like a perfect fit on paper alongside Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in the team's starting lineup.

Wiseman has flashed game-changing potential at times—he scored a season-high 25 points in just 24 minutes in a Jan. 27 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves—but it's been a mostly up-and-down debut campaign for the Tennessee native.

He's averaged 11.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field across 36 appearances (24 starts).

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr explained Monday that Wiseman's ability offensively is noticeable, but he's more concerned about his learning curve defensively:

"He's been pretty good offensively for the most part. I thought the Toronto game was more an outlier. No Steph, no Draymond and for whatever reason we got completely destroyed, and I don't think that game made any of us look good, myself included. So if you take that game out and you just look game to game you can see James—he'll have his moments offensively where you can really see it.

"Defensively, is really the key though, there's just so much to learn. So much ground to cover. Transition defense in particular, he's got to improve upon, all these things, they're just going to have to come gradually because it's just too much for a young guy to absorb it all in one span of a few months. But he's coming along, and as I've said many times, he's just a great kid and very coachable and I'm really excited about his future."

Wiseman ranks last among 84 qualified centers in ESPN's defensive Real Plus-Minus.

Golden State, which ranks 23rd in points allowed per game, is trying to overcome its defensive struggles to earn a playoff berth in the Western Conference. It owns a 23-27 record, which is 10th in the conference and would represent the final spot in the play-in tournament.

Kerr and the coaching staff will have to balance the desire to earn a postseason spot with the continued development of Wiseman down the stretch of the regular season.

Getting advice from Durant, who made a seamless transition into the Warriors system in 2016, should help expedite the process.

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