James Wiseman has to be the most intriguing prospect in this NBA Draft Class. Early in this College Basketball Season, Wiseman looked like he would have a season for the ages, but was suddenly suspended by the NCAA because of his family illegally accepted funds while the Wiseman was still in high school. In Wiseman’s short collegiate career, Wiseman averaged 19.7 PPG, along with 10.7 RPG and 3.1 BPG. Because of the lack of film of Wiseman in College, Wiseman’s NBA draft stock will take a hit, but anyone who averaged a double-double in college has a great shot at succeeding in the NBA. The 6' 9" 19-year-old has all the intangibles to succeed in the NBA. Here is how I graded Wiseman’s skillset entering the NBA Draft.
Wiseman’s unique size and athleticism make him a great rebounder on both ends of the floor. Wiseman’s length and his positioning gives him much-needed physical tools to thrive in the paint. Wiseman has a reported 9’5 standing reach, the highest in college basketball this season, which helps him with guarding the rim from attacking centers, or attacking the rim for second-chance points. Wiseman is on his way to becoming a great rim-protector in the NBA, which is a very valuable asset for a center to have. Statistically, Wiseman is a better defensive rebounder instead of an offensive rebounder, with him averaging 6.4 DRPG and 4.3 ORPG, but Wiseman is still a relentless force in the paint either way.
Wiseman’s lack of shooting at the 3-point line and the lack of post offense keep the rating from a B. Wiseman has loads of potential to be a good shooting center one day, but he'll need to continue to work on it. Wiseman struggled beyond the arc against teams like SC State and UIC, where Wiseman should have been dominating. Wiseman couldn’t even make a 3-pointer last Season. Despite his shooting struggles, there are reasons to be optimistic about his potential to improve. First off, Wiseman’s shooting form during free throws and floaters is excellent. His shooting form looks just like Chris Bosh’s form when he played for the Heat and Raptors. If Wiseman can grow comfortable shooting a 3-pointer with his free throw form, Wiseman will quickly become an effective shooter. His post skills, however, won’t be as easy to fix. Wiseman lacks strength and awareness in the post, which makes his offense one-dimensional. Even in high school, Wiseman was out-played in the paint by his opposing centers. Wiseman’s lack of shooting and his post offense will be a major liability in drafting Wiseman.
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If an award for the league’s Best Shot Blocker existed, Wiseman would’ve won it unanimously. Wiseman averaged 3.1 BPG, the most in college basketball. Of course, Wiseman’s blocking highlights the good and the bad of his game. Wiseman is a very undisciplined blocker, which leads to him giving up easy buckets to the other team. Wiseman bites hard on pump fakes, which leads to him picking up bad fouls. Elite centers in today’s NBA like Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, and Bam Adebayo thrive in the paint when they have the chance to pump fake. Wiseman will need to learn control and discipline in the paint once he starts playing in the NBA. Wiseman’s blocking struggles come when he is defending in space and in the pick-n-roll, where smaller, more agile guards take advantage of Wiseman’s major weakness.
There isn’t too much to not like about Wiseman’s defense. We’ve already established how good of a blocker Wiseman is, but Wiseman still finds different ways to contribute defensively. Wiseman’s defensive box plus/minus was 4.9, the highest in the AAC. Wiseman’s block percentage was 13.6%, which also led the AAC. Wiseman led both of these stats despite having a usage rate of 29.1%. In short, Wiseman was functional with whatever he did on defense.