The Washington Wizards are 2-7, and the rebuild is in full swing. It’s time to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks by taking a flyer on a young player failing to live up to expectations.
Enter James Wiseman. The 2020 No. 2 overall pick has logged only 88 appearances through four career seasons so far for the Warriors and Pistons. It’s hard to read too much into his career stats of 10.4 points per game on 53.7% shooting when he plays so sporadically, but for a Wizards team with little to lose (other than games), a formerly highly-touted prospect is well worth the experiment.
In terms of compensation, it’s hard to imagine the market for Wiseman is active, let alone competitive. Perhaps a conditional second round pick and matching salaries (a couple of the Wizards’ lesser-played vets gets the money done) is sufficient to pry Wiseman out of Detroit. As it stands, Wiseman is comfortably out of coach Monty Williams’ rotation in Detroit. Wiseman has scored just 16 total points in 38 total minutes so far this season and sits behind Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley III in the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation.
The key weakness in Wiseman’s game was put best in Kevin O’Connor’s 2020 Draft board: “He’s an all-world athlete in an open gym, but he slows down in games when he has to read the floor... Shaky team defender who tends to find himself in the wrong position or a beat late when rotating. He reads the floor slowly, so his pick-and-roll defense is particularly underwhelming.”
Wiseman is one of the most physically gifted young players in the NBA, but his play on the court thus far has demonstrated an alarming lack of basketball IQ. I think it is fair here to cut him some slack — his career has been marred by injuries thus far, and before his trade to Detroit at midseason last year, the only playing situation he ever knew was limited minutes during championship contention with the Warriors.
Considering the low price Wiseman would demand and the expectation-free brand of basketball the Wizards are currently playing, taking a flyer on the former top-two pick should be a no-brainer. The worst that can happen is that Wiseman lives up to his unfortunate status as a draft bust and the Wizards can move on once his contract expires this summer.