How James Wiseman could be impacted by Warriors' improved second unit

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How Wiseman could be impacted by Warriors' second-unit rise originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

After muddling through the first month of the season, the Warriors’ second unit has evolved into a squad capable of allowing Stephen Curry to pause each half for a few minutes of relative serenity.

“Just a different level of comfort,” squad leader Draymond Green told reporters Tuesday night in Dallas, after a pulsating 116-113 loss to the Mavericks. “With that level of comfort, because it’s certain, you know what’s coming, you know who you’re out there with, you’re getting more accustomed to playing with those guys. It’s huge.

“Their confidence is back. I think with the second group the confidence was waning a little bit, and the confidence is back. So, it’s good.”

The result is the Warriors and their fan base falling in love. The positive early impressions justify the feeling.

This welcome development, however, leaves James Wiseman a bit, um, jilted.

The Warriors have at least temporarily moved on from the big man. Wiseman has no place with them, not after they have won eight of 12 games since he was removed from the rotation and later assigned to G-League Santa Cruz. Not after they’ve gone 4-2 with the redesigned second unit.

Wiseman was part – only part – of the second-unit problem that seems to have been solved without him.

Draymond was given the reins to the second unit 10 days ago, at halftime of a game against the Rockets in Houston. He’s now taking the floor with guards Jordan Poole and Donte DiVincenzo and forwards Anthony Lamb and Jonathan Kuminga, with JaMychal Green also in the mix.

Coach Steve Kerr, after experimenting like an over-caffeinated scientist for four weeks, has settled upon something he likes. That means no Moses Moody, for now, and no Wiseman for the immediate future.

“We are in a better place,” Kerr said Tuesday. “We just have to keep going and see where everything takes us. The season generally has a way of creating opportunities for every player. I’m not going to mess with the rotation while we’re in this good groove, but it does feel like we’ve stabilized things.

“I’ve encouraged all those guys to keep going.”

This message is for Moody, who was with the team in Dallas, and for Wiseman, who on Tuesday was 1,700 miles away.

Wiseman has played five games since joining the Sea Dubs. He has had moments good and moments bad, moments when he was spectacular and moments when he was invisible. Though the Warriors have issued no timeline for Wiseman’s return to the NBA, there has been nothing to indicate he’s ready to come back and contribute to their rotation.

The Warriors want to see if Wiseman takes over segments of a G-League game. Play as if he’s the only skilled, athletic 7-foot-1, 258-pound specimen on the floor – which he almost always is. They want him to show teammates and opponents and NBA player-personnel types why they drafted him No. 2 overall two years and 12 days ago.

Wiseman surely is aware that Golden State’s second unit is playing appreciably better at both ends than it was when he was the center. He knows that there were more losses with him and now there are more wins without him.

“I am super proud of JP, Donte, JK, JaMychal and Ant,” Curry said.

“It’s uplifting to see these guys starting to figure it out and coming along,” Green said, “because ultimately it’s going to help us continue to win games in this season.”

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How can Wiseman not feel left out?

No player who has tasted the NBA – though Wiseman’s 50 games registers as barely a sip – wants to spend time in the G League beyond a quick rehab or reconditioning spell.

Wiseman has been in Santa Cruz for two full weeks. And he’s not rehabbing in the wake of injury or surgery.

This is when we should get an idea of how hot Wiseman’s competitive fire burns – and how much he has learned about himself while playing regular minutes. This assignment, for however long it lasts, should speak volumes about the direction of his future.

The Warriors don’t need him now and might not need him at all, unless he can convince them they do.

Not only will that require a lot of good work on his part, but they’ll need to see it before they can believe it.

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