Penny Hardaway coached James Wiseman in college — for just three games. But he coached him. Hardaway also apparently went to the John Calipari school of “pump up your players before the draft.”
Which leads to Hardaway pumping up how well Wiseman would fit on the Golden State Warriors, a team the young center has been linked to (if they keep the pick). Hardaway spoke to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
“He can easily keep up with the game and the pace,” Hardaway told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “He’s very athletic, very fast. He’d instantly be one of the better rim runners in the league. He’s also a rim protector; he is going to protect the rim. His skill set is good enough now, and it’s going to get better, especially because he’d be playing with veterans like Draymond, Klay and Steph.
“Also, he can space (his shot) out to the 3. He’s been working on his jump shot and his understanding of studying film and what a team wants and needs. In their system, with those guys, he would be spectacular.”
Scouts see Wiseman as more of a project than instantly an elite rim runner on day one, but also as a player with a very high top end (top 50, top 40 player in the league). He has the look and skills of a five who fits the modern NBA game — length, mobility, athleticism, all of which makes him that potential rim runner and, with a little more muscle added, a rim-protecting defender who can switch a screen out high and defend in space.
The concern with Wiseman is whether he accepts that role — some scouts have said he sees himself more as the big man focal point of an offense. More Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo than role player. He’s not that elite guy. Some players adjust well to playing a role in the NBA and if Wiseman does he could have a long, lucrative career. If he insists on being the star, things may not go as well.
Put Wiseman on the Warriors with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green — a strong locker room — and he may be more willing to accept a role. Golden State has an established culture and set of stars, everyone that goes there has to fit in (including Durant).
All of this is just speculation, however. We don’t know exactly how well Wiseman will fit in the NBA. What we do know is Penny Hardaway knows his role as coach and hype man.