Warriors Dynasty Drafting: James Wiseman, Nico Mannion, Justinian Jessup
All articles in this series are at How the Warriors Extended The Dynasty Through The Draft, an in-depth series.
In the big picture, our comparisons show that GSW drafted quite well compared to who they could have drafted, and better than any other post-1980s dynasty. However, the nature of the draft is that you’ll get picks that don’t work out. It’s the overall body of work that counts for judging a front office. Criticizing an individual draft is like criticizing a player’s single shot. If it was a good shot, then the result is not as important as the overall shot profile and efficiency.
Despite having just said that, I will now critique the individual draft picks from the point of view of results for the dynasty. I’m covering all four of these picks together as they are collectively in a category of “not good, but not as bad as you’d think”. This doesn’t mean FIRE BOB MYERS. That would be silly. It’s just trying to realistically look at the record.
Pick Grade: F / Incomplete
James Wiseman was selected #2 in 2020.
I’m going to break from the usual format for Big Jim.
Let’s get one thing clear: I still have high hopes for Wiseman if he can ever play a pro game again.
But. He hasn’t helped the Dynasty at all, so it’s an F from that perspective. Wiseman’s career up until now has been a tremendous bust. Not just the terrible efficiency on the court in his one year, mixed in with enough spicy highlights to feel like he could have been more. Not just being picked ahead of All-Star LaMelo Ball. Not just that he’s been unavailable for games for a year after vague team announcements endlessly trickling out.
It’s that he hasn’t even been available for practice or summer league for his first two years which makes the whole experience feel like a horrible waste since there isn’t even the glimpse of improvement in the meantime. It feels like we’ll be starting at square one with Wiseman, if we are so lucky as to even see him in 2022-23, which is no guarantee.
He did make it through 2022 Summer League, not only uninjured but also improving game by game. So again, there are promising signs.
I did not want to draft Wiseman at all. But I got over it. It was a reasonable draft pick, a calculated risk by a front office that has had a spectacular overall record of success in a business where your every move is a risk with incomplete information. Once he was drafted, it was time to hope this kid could reach his tremendous athletic potential.
Wiseman was, and remains, a lottery ticket for the tantalizing possibility he will turn into a league-changing big man. He certainly has the physical tools to do that. There is a chance the Wiseman will become an important role player as soon as the 2022-23 Warriors title defense, and when that time comes, I will re-evaluate his grade here.
In the meantime, we can stare intently at the 2022 Summer League coverage.
The LaMelo Ball Question
By the way, LaMelo himself is no slam dunk as a better contributor to the championship run.
Does LaMelo (with his father) fit the selfless chemistry of the team? Unknown.
Would he respond as well as Poole did to moving out of the starting lineup and out of closing lineup, if necessary? Unknown.
Does LaMelo block Poole’s development? Very possible that Poole never gets the playing time and long leash to work through his nightmare start and carve out his place in the league.
Does LaMelo get the Tony Allen treatment in the playoffs and become unplayable next to Steph in the crucible of the Playoffs? Does playoff game planning expose other weaknesses in LaMelo’s game? Unknown. LaMelo has only played the one-game 2022 Play-In and put up good numbers in getting blown out by ATL But LaMelo has never ever been subject to the game-planning of a full playoff series, much less a whole marathon Finals run where your every weakness gets attacked.
So many unknowns, and I’m happy to not think about it too hard, because the Warriors won it all in our reality. I don’t need them to win in all 14,000,605 possible timelines.
achiappanza writes: Since you did advocate trading the pick, who in retrospect was a realistic and better target? I agree with you about LaMelo; not really a good fit here.
Apricot: Many of us wanted a trade down for Haliburton. Which in retrospect would have been a pretty cool move.
However, I’m not one to crow about “being right” because we don’t know what trades were available. Every team knew the top of the draft was all question marks, so it’s likely there weren’t any good possibilities.
Nico Mannion and Justinian Jessup
Who was a better pick in 2020?
The Warriors picked Nico Mannion at #48 and Justinian Jessup at #51.
Nico Mannion played a few games of garbage time where he showed enough that I had an irrational good feeling about him, and then he stashed himself in the Italian League Serie A. He immediately came down with a horrible intestinal illness, lost a ton of weight, then got more injuries, then got COVID, and has been in limbo since. He looked okay for Team Italy in the FIBA World Cup.
Our commenter Freddie reports:
Guys, Nico Mannion last night has ended his season. I live in the city where he played this season (but I root for the other city team, the"Mets" of the town, to make you understand the differences between the two teams of Bologna, Italy)
It was a ugly season for Nico. His coach, Sergio Scariolo, who was in Nick Nurse Raptors staff (in 2019 too) benched Nico in the playoff run (often Nico did not even play a minute) and they eventually lost to Milan in Italian Finals. A very disappointing season for Nico, in the wrong team with the wrong head coach. I hope he will leave very soon if he hopes to become an NBA player
Ps the fanbase of his italian team (much worse than the Celtics fanbase) unanimously think Nico has been a huge bust.
I'm sorry for Nico
Justinian Jessup has never played in the NBA. He played in 2021 Summer League, looked completely and utterly overmatched at first, and then by the end he looked not like a deer in the headlights, but still like a deer. So he remains in the Australian NBL where he’s shooting a decent 36.4% from three on high volume, but isn’t yet showing the elite sharpshooting he was drafted for. Jessup returned to 2022 Las Vegas Summer League, and looked more composed, but ultimately his playing time dwindled.
I think it’s unlikely we see either one in the G-League any time soon.
Of the 12 players drafted after Mannion, only two have gotten any noticeable playing time:
Kenyon Martin Jr, SAC, #52. Has played 22 MPG for HOU, the worst team in the league in the middle of a reboot Process.
Isaiah Joe, PHI, #49. 11 MPG for PHI in a minor role.
Pick Grade: C and C
Probably Mannion and Jessup will have zero impact on the Dynasty, and that’s okay for #48 and #51 draft picks. They have essentially become Draft-and-Stash specials, and if you have enough of these, you might get a serviceable player from time to time.
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