James Wiseman is on the clock.
Well, not entirely, but Draymond Green has taken note of a rookie his Golden State Warriors passed on in favor of the 7-foot prospect who has struggled with injury in his first NBA go ‘round. The three-time champion recently discussed an exchange he had with his mother regarding Charlotte Hornets guard and Rookie of the Year favorite LaMelo Ball, who was picked immediately after Wiseman in the 2020 NBA Draft, as Wiseman when at two and Ball at three. Green had initially downplayed Ball’s early production until recently tweeting out in support of The guard following a 24-point, 12-assist performance in a one-point win over the Sacramento Kings on February 28, where he also shot 7-for-12 from the field.
This morning, Green appeared on ESPN’s First Take with Charly Arnolt and Chiney Ogwumike to profess his love for Ball’s game, while also acknowledging that his mother had been right about LaMelo’s skill all along.
“I must be completely honest. My mom and I talk basketball all the time ... I hadn’t had a chance to really see LaMelo play much. Obviously, he was in Australia, and I’m not one to really follow a ton of high school kids unless I personally know them or they’re going to Michigan State,” he admitted. “I didn’t really see LaMelo play a lot. My mom would call me earlier in the year [and say], ‘LaMelo is good.’ And I’m like, ‘Ah, ma. He’s putting up stats, but a lot of people put up stats. I’m not sure I believe the stats.’ And I hadn’t really watched him play. And as I’ve watched him play, my goodness, I texted my mom not long ago. I said, ‘Mom, you was right. LaMelo is a problem. He’s a problem, ma!’”
Green, lauded for having one of the best basketball IQs in the league, also talked up the 19-year-old’s floor generalship.
“I love his game — he’s extremely smart,” Green added. “He doesn’t even know how to play the NBA game yet. He’s just out there playing; he’s like a little kid in a candy store, just out there playing, having fun. He’s very smart. He passes the ball with the best of them already — I think Charlotte and MJ [Michael Jordan] got this one right.”
Green later said that while Ball has immensely impressed him, he’s still optimistic that Wiseman will rise as the best player from the 2020 draft class.
“I love Melo’s game and what he’s doing [but] I’m riding with mine ‘til the death. I gotta roll with James,” said Green. “And I think as James gets back out there over the course of this next half of the season, he’ll get back to the top of that rookie ladder like he was at the beginning.”
Ball is currently averaging 15.8 points, 6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, leading all rookies in the three categories. Wiseman, who missed significant time with a wrist injury, is averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season. Draymond’s mama was right.