Both missed training camp and all three preseason games due to positive coronavirus tests, but are now the anchors of the Warriors front court. One is a 19-year-old with doe eyes who walks across the ground like a gazelle. and the other is a 30-year-old Jedi Defense Master who looked after his protégé at the beginning of the season.
How this partnership between Wiseman and Green develops on the pitch will determine the upper limit of the Warriors this season.
So far the results have been mixed. Though Wiseman had his share of SportsCenter-worthy highlights, the Warriors were beaten by 14.7 points per 100 possessions if he and Green shared the word. That’s a problem considering it’s two-fifths of the starting grid.
It can be assumed that the problem is on the offensive. Wiseman has burgeoning aftermath and a surprisingly feather-light shot, but is by no means a playmaker. Green, meanwhile, isn’t a shooter (he scored at least three field goals for the first time this season when he beat the Raptors on Sunday). But the offense is not the problem. Surprisingly, it’s defense.
With Green and Wiseman on the court, the Warriors have a defensive rating of 116.1 – nearly seven points per 100 possessions, worse than Golden State’s since Green joined the lineup, and a mark that would rank second in the NBA.
This could be because Green feels like he needs to train Wiseman on defensive possessions instead of exercising them.
For example, Paul George hit the Clippers Wiseman from dribbling in the first basket of Friday’s game to set off a chain reaction. Green flashed to cause disruption, although Andrew Wiggins was clearly able to help, leaving Serge Ibaka wide open. Ibaka wasn’t Green’s man who started possession, but when Wiseman switched to George, Green was the only player who could defend him. This is the type of game Green has made countless times, but due to a lack of trust in his teammates, he made a rare mistake.
It should come as no surprise that Golden State’s defensive rating will go up when Wiseman is replaced by Kevon Looney, who has played six seasons and two finals with Green. With Green and Looney together on the field, the Warriors outperform their opponents by 18.2 points per 100 possessions and achieve a stingy defensive score of 92.3.
This doesn’t mean the Warriors should bench Wiseman and start Looney. Wiseman has too much potential to make changes after just a few games. But it shows that there is still much to be done.
During the film sessions, Green will point out instances where Wiseman is out of position, chasing blocks, and missing rebounds.
« To have this guy who’s not afraid to use his voice and give me tips on how to get better, » said Wiseman, « that’s really great for me and the team. »
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On the pitch, Green will scream and give instructions to the rookie. Once Wiseman needs fewer instructions, Green can be trusted and thrive.
For Wiseman, who has played only 13 organized basketball games since graduating from high school in 2019, this ability to learn in practice and in the game is invaluable.
« I study on the fly because he tells me what position to be in, » said Wiseman. « Since he’s a trainer on the floor, I study at the same time as I play. So it’s like the best of both worlds. »
There were flashes of burgeoning chemistry. After connecting only one connection in the first three games, they made three connections in the last three games. Of Green’s average of 6.0 assists per game, 1.3 set up Wiseman. In turn, if Wiseman can better defend the rim, Green is set free to wreak havoc.
The Pacers on Tuesday evening offer a tough challenge. Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are a productive and dynamic front court duo that will stretch the floor, refine the path to the basket, and test out Golden State’s key defenders.
Green and Wiseman cut out their work for you. Like all season, they do this together.
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