Normally when it comes to the NBA Draft one prospect, in particular, will carry the designation as the mystery man of the draft class. What I mean by this is a player that basketball fans might not have a lot of knowledge about. Usually, this prospect is an international prospect. Someone that NBA fans haven't paid a ton of attention to throughout the year.
Why am I bringing this up? Because James Wiseman might just be our mystery man of the 2020 Draft. Now let's take a second and go over what we know about Wiseman. The big man was the number one recruit in the ESPN Top 100 out of High School, choosing to sign with Memphis over a number of notable schools. Wiseman is a beast, standing at 7'1" 245 pounds and displays impressive athleticism for a player of his size. It was set to be a massive year for the University of Memphis with Wiseman handling the middle for Head Coach Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers. Then, an NCAA investigation led to the eventual early departure of Wiseman after just 3 games for the Tigers. Wiseman decided he would spend the rest of the "college season" preparing for the NBA Draft instead.
RUNNING THE FLOOR
One of the first things you want to see when you're looking at a big man is their measurables. While some might differ on what measurables mean exactly, let us explain here that we are talking about Wiseman's ability to run the floor. It's rare for a prospect of Wiseman's size (7'1") to run the floor with such fluidity. Here we see Wiseman doing a great job of running the middle of the floor and staying in his lane. Notice how the big fella does a great job of keeping his eyes up the floor and also locking onto the primary ball-handler when he sees he has nothing but daylight ahead of him. Wiseman then shows us some soft hands before throwing down an emphatic slam.
Often when you have a big man with this type of elite size, it's even more impressive when you get the combination of freakish athleticism to go along with it. Although the sample size with Wiseman was small (only 3 games in college), we still have enough film to see what skillset should translate to the next level. Wiseman stands at 7'1" with a reported 7'6" wingspan and a freakish 9'3.5 standing reach. Plays like this are where those measurements stand out in a big way. Notice how James does a great job of attacking the class and keeping the ball up. His first and second jumps show a great amount of explosiveness and he's quick to get right back up.
PICK & ROLL WEAPON
Here we get a look at Wiseman going to work in the pick and roll game. Great job of James going body hunting and setting a nice solid on-ball screen. From there, Wiseman does a good job of getting his head around and locating the ball handler. It's almost comical how effortless this lob finish from Wiseman looks. He should be able to translate immediately as a lob threat at the NBA level.
When it comes to scouting Wiseman as a potential big man at the NBA level, the two skillsets teams are going to be most intrigued with are his physical profile and his shot-blocking potential. While Wiseman can be a bit choppy with his feet, his footwork still is promising for a player of his size. Here we get a nice possession of seeing Wiseman dialed in defending his player off the dribble. A number of times during his brief tenure at Memphis, Wiseman found himself in trouble falling for pump fakes. It's something that a young big who wants to make the emphatic blocks will have to take care of at the next level, or else veterans will eat him alive. Here, a nice job by James staying patient and exploding for the big rejection.
This is the type of clip that forces everyone to want to compare Wiseman to former Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat great Chris Bosh. Wiseman has the potential to be a bruiser inside, but he also has an intriguing developing outside game which is going to be interesting to monitor early in his career. His form looks like he should turn into a respectable shooter with some repetition, but the consistency hasn't been there...yet. Still, Wiseman will intrigue an organization that believes their developmental staff can get him to become a unique weapon...a 7'1" athletic center who can stretch the defense from outside.
Always want to see a young player be able to read the play before it happens and this help-side block from Wiseman is just what NBA teams will want to see. Initially, Wiseman switches onto the ball handler here before helping after the following entry pass. Once he realizes that his teammate, fellow projected first-round selection Precious Achiuwa needs help, Wiseman slides down and delivers a beautiful block up top.
I love this play from Wiseman in general. Something that stood out to me about Wiseman was his ability to use his lower body to create a seal and hold off defenders. Wiseman works to create positioning here and doesn't give up any ground once he creates the angle for the entry pass. Once he catches the pass, Wiseman does a great job of anticipating the weak-side help defense and shows us a beautiful gather for an easy slam.
This is another example of Wiseman's offensive potential. A beautiful looking Turnaround fadeaway right here and some NBA organization is either going to be fascinated by the idea of Wiseman turning into an all-around offensive threat, or they are going to prefer for Wiseman to dominate inside with his physical frame. Still, this clip of an in-rhythm fadeaway will have teams foaming at the mouth.
PICK AND ROLL WEAPON PART II
Again, Wiseman's most notable skill set that should translate with ease would be his ability in the pick and roll game. Now that's going to be easier said than done obviously. Wiseman will still need to develop consistency when it comes to setting good screens, but he does a great job of not rushing this roll here. Notice the extra pause by Wiseman to allow the ball handler the time to create the angle for this bounce pass. Attention to detail is a key component of overall effort when it comes to a prospect.
Another shooting clip look here in which we still get to see the potential of Wiseman to stretch the defense. You can see before this pass, the amount of attention Wiseman receives as a big man with his combination of size and athleticism in the paint. The common knock you might hear about Wiseman is that he's become more intrigued by proving his ability to stretch the floor. While I understand the criticism, I have no problem with a look like this, especially with a ball-handler driving into traffic.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Notice the attention to detail here by James. First, sets a good solid cross-screen to free his teammate open on the wing. Wiseman then sets a down screen which does just enough to get his teammate open, but the positioning he opens up after the down screen is what we like here. Another great job of Wiseman working to create an ideal position in the paint while holding his ground. James does a great job of adjusting to the entry pass and going straight up towards the rim.
It doesn't require talent to be a good rebounder. It's all about desire and effort. Here we see Wiseman doing a great job of attacking the ball and getting Memphis another possession early in this game. Then it's just a pure example of the type of athlete and weapon that the young big man can be. Wiseman gets behind the defense and basically looks at the passer with the look as if he's saying "Yes, I can out jump everyone on the floor right now."
It's so easy to get "giddy" about a big man that shows a great amount of athleticism and defensive potential. But not many offer the measurables and physical profile that James Wiseman does. Wiseman is going to be a bit of a mystery and most likely can be viewed as the high-risk/high-reward prospect in the Top 10. You can argue that no prospect will have more unanswered questions than Wiseman throughout the Draft Process. The flashes of incredible potential are eye-opening on tape. With the way the game has translated today, does a team want to make Wiseman a bully inside the key or do they want to develop him as a multi-level scorer? The answers will come to us down the road, but some organization is going to go all-in on the potential of James Wiseman. As of now, Wiseman ranks 2nd on our 2020 NBA Draft Board.