Height/Weight: 7’1, 240 lbs
James Wiseman is a tall, athletic big who has the perfect frame for today’s NBA. Wiseman loves to get out in transition and is an excellent finisher at the rim, making him a dream come true for up-tempo minded coaches and point guards. When he gets the ball with a head of steam, Wiseman is nearly impossible to keep up with or get in front of due to his length and speed.
Wiseman is an explosive athlete, which he uses to his advantage well on the offensive end of the floor. His combination of size and athleticism allows him to create his own shots with ease as a slasher and in the post. Wiseman takes advantage of being left handed as well, and can almost always get his shot off when going to his left, and is a very strong finisher with that hand.
Wiseman possesses elite size and has a great frame, both traits will help make his transition to the NBA game smooth. He’s quick and agile for his size as well, and he’ll create mismatches against slower centers.
He’s also a lot stronger than most players his age, and still has the opportunity to fill out even more. Wiseman won’t be pushed around by veteran guys, and down the road he could be the one throwing his weight around in the paint if he continues to develop and improve his strength.
Wiseman’s biggest weakness is defending the pick and roll, which is a huge concern for NBA teams. He was really exposed for this in the Oregon game early on in the college basketball season, displaying both slow feet and poor awareness. If he doesn’t improve his ability to defend guards off of a switch, he’ll get picked on in the pick and roll all game long in the NBA.
Wiseman isn’t a very good jump shooter yet, and will need to extend his range to be a complete offensive player at the next level. While he hasn’t been able to shoot consistently outside of 15 feet just yet, his form is promising so there’s hope he can get there as a shooter down the road.
Wiseman’s decision making was questionable during his short stint at Memphis, and he’ll need to show improvement in that area to have a successful pro career. He gets tunnel vision in the half court and often forces bad shots. Wiseman tries to force shots through double teams instead of kicking it out to a teammate, an issue that won’t fly at the next level. Tunnel vision and poor decision making aren’t tolerated in the NBA and have derailed the careers of promising talents, and erasing those habits is a lot easier said that done.
The best thing for Wiseman’s career would be to get drafted to a team with excellent coaching and a team culture of holding players accountable, because the earlier these habits are addressed the easier it will be to change them.
Entering the 2019-20 season, James Wiseman was the front runner to be the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Wiseman’s freshman year turned out to be very dramatic, to say the least, and resulted in him only suiting up for three games before deciding to leave school and prepare for the draft rather than serve the suspension and pay the fine that the NCAA issued him in an unprecedented punishment for receiving impermissible benefits. From a scouting standpoint, it’s tough to evaluate Wiseman’s freshman season from such a small sample size, especially considering he only played against one quality opponent (at Oregon) and didn’t have a great game. While Wiseman’s stock has slipped since November and he likely won’t hear his name called first in this year’s draft, there’s still a lot to like about his game, and he can contribute as a scorer and rim runner right away.
I could see Wiseman going as high as three or four, and as low as about eight, with somewhere in the middle of that range being the most likely outcome. A lot depends on how individual teams in the top ten value Wiseman, but the consensus in the NBA draft world right now ranks USC center Onyeka Okungwu as the top big in the draft over Wiseman. Teams may value Obi Toppin’s production at the college level over Wiseman’s potential as well, so there’s a chance he could be the third big selected. After the lottery we’ll have a clearer picture of where Wiseman may go, but I believe there’s several teams that will be picking in the top ten who could use some youth and scoring in the front court and one of them will find James Wiseman too good to pass up.