ORLANDO, Fla. — As James Wiseman continues the next phase of his career with the Detroit Pistons, he does so with a renewed sense of perspective following a trade deadline deal away from the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Wiseman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, has struggled to stay on the floor during his three seasons in the league due to a variety of injuries and inconsistencies.
Despite the setbacks, the 22-year-old is enjoying a fresh start with the Pistons as he looks to get his career back on track.
“This is apparently like my rookie year, I can say, because just the amount of games I’ve played,” Wiseman told ESPN prior to Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “Seriously. So, I just got to take it one day at a time. I can’t be so hard on myself about anything, about trying to be good right now, all the instant gratification stuff. Sometimes it comes into my mind, but I got to just look at it for what it is and be real with myself. It’s going to take time. It’s not going to be now. It’s going to be within time, it just takes time within the craft. I just got to keep working. That’s it.”
Coming into Sunday’s game with the Magic, Wiseman is averaging 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds over 19 contests — impressive, given that he had only played in just 21 games all season for the Warriors prior to the trade. Is he frustrated that the Warriors moved him so early into his career?
“It’s a business,” Wiseman said. “I kind of seen that when I got traded. It’s like an experience within itself. I just got to take it one day at a time. I only played like 78 games, me being in the league, so it’s going to take time.”
Wiseman remains confident that he will build on the promise that made him the No. 2 pick and will continue to improve in the Pistons’ system.
“Short term just to get better and just to develop,” Wiseman said. “Just watch as much film as possible and just don’t get so down on myself if I make mistakes or if I mess up. It’s part of the journey, it’s going to happen, because I haven’t played in such a long time. It’s going to take time with me just believing in myself and knowing that I can do it. Keep working every day, everything will come together eventually.”
Wiseman said he still keeps in touch with several of his former teammates including Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. What did he learn most from his three years in San Francisco?
“Just looking at Steph [Curry] and Klay and Draymond, how they carried themselves on and off the court,” Wiseman said. “And how they approached the game mentally and also approaching the game itself. I took a lot of characteristics from them and just trying to implement it into my game as well.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said he appreciates the way Wiseman has been able to regulate his emotions on the floor, especially after getting down on himself after making a mistake. Casey noted that part of the discussion in the Pistons’ coaches meeting Sunday was just how few games Wiseman had played in his brief career. Sunday marked just the 80th game of Wiseman’s NBA career.
“In our coaches meeting this morning we looked at the numbers for James and [Jalen] Duren,” Casey said. “Even though James Wiseman’s played, what, three years now, Duren has played the same amount of minutes in this league as he has. [Wiseman’s key] is just getting the opportunity to play and just getting the minutes and playing through some things where he didn’t have an opportunity, playing for a championship in Golden State. Here he’s part of a growing group and that’s what he needs, just that opportunity, a pat on the back and work.”
Casey is hopeful that Wiseman will add even more bulk in the weight room this summer, but both Casey and his new teammates can see the subtle improvements in his game.
“I’d just say his confidence,” Pistons teammate Isaiah Livers said, when asked where he’s seen Wiseman’s biggest growth over the last six weeks. “I feel like he’s getting acclimated. He feels comfortable. He’s starting to understand the plays. So I feel like he’s getting more comfortable, and I think it’s showing, the way he’s playing. To me, he’s looked comfortable out there and I feel it’s only going to get better for him.”
Wiseman said he isn’t worried about all the chatter surrounding the early part of his career and his trade from the Warriors. He’s just focused on improving and getting better with his new team.
“It’s life,” Wiseman said. “I can’t control that, like me getting injured and stuff like that, it just happened. I can’t control that. I’m human. So I’ve just got to take it one day at a time, just embrace the journey, just embrace the highs and lows. Not every day going to be fantastic. It just is what it is.”