James Wiseman has played only 12 NBA games, and when you factor in his shortened collegiate career, the No. 2 overall pick has played only 15 games beyond the high school level. That makes him easy prey for a team with as much veteran savvy as the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Rookies fairly frequently find themselves in foul trouble, but against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, Wiseman got there far faster than most. By the beginning of the third quarter, he’d already racked up five fouls as the Lakers built a double-digit lead over his Golden State Warriors. The fifth, a charge committed against Gasol, finally pushed Wiseman’s temper over the edge. After he was taken out of the game, he smacked a Gatorade cooler off a training table in frustration.
Obviously, the Warriors would prefer more maturity out of their top rookie, but asking that much out of a 19-year-old might be unrealistic. Young players typically take time to learn how to control their emotions on the floor, a necessity in a league built on maximizing every possible advantage. Players can control themselves, or they can lose playing time.
Wiseman is in a difficult position. Most top picks grow up on bad teams that can give them time to develop. The Warriors want to win right now, and in Draymond Green, have a very demanding leader that won’t tolerate mistakes on the floor. Some setbacks like this were inevitable, but the Warriors will live with them if Wiseman uses them as opportunities to grow into the star they hope he can be.