Had 7-foot-1 centre James Wiseman completed a full season at the University of Memphis, there might not be a discussion surrounding who is most deserving of a No. 1 selection in the upcoming draft.
Instead, eligibility issues resulted in his freshman year being limited to just three games in which he averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks before he ultimately decided withdraw from school in December to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Despite playing in just three collegiate games, Wiseman is now among a short list of prospects who could hear their name called first on Nov. 18, a reminder of how special a player he is.
Just how special is he? Our NBA.com Staff discusses how good Wiseman could become at his peak…
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Limited games played means limited film but from what I did see, I couldn't help but think Hassan Whiteside.
Like Whiteside, Wiseman displayed a great touch around the rim, a knack for activity around the glass and the timing to serve as a game-changing rim protector right away. The narratives surrounding Whiteside have changed over the years but the production has been steady; over the six seasons since breaking out with the Heat in the 2014-15 campaign, Whiteside is averaging 14.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, winning blocks titles in 2016 and 2020.
Wiseman has the skill to be much more adept than Whiteside on the offensive end, as he's proven to be capable of putting the ball on the deck and could be trusted to hit jumpers as a pop man. This, of course, largely depends on where Wiseman lands and what their staff is comfortable with trusting him to do.
Regardless of where he's taken, Wiseman will be averaging a double-double in this league in no time, I'm confident in that.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): In my Mock Draft, I had DeAndre Jordan as a comparison for Wiseman.
Where Jordan is listed at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wiseman is even taller and longer at 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. He's incredibly athletic for his size with a blend of speed that makes him a perfect rim-runner for today's NBA. He brings high-energy on the glass on both ends, can work as a lob target running the floor or in a pick-and-roll setting and, unlike Jordan, even has a nice touch on his jump shot if he wants to keep the defence guessing.
While he's still raw as a post scorer and defender (sound familiar?) his athleticism and length should be more than enough to keep him sufficient in both of those areas until he's polished. Where it took Jordan five seasons to really get comfortable in the league and become the player we saw anchoring those LA Clippers playoff teams, I believe Wiseman could adjust faster than that.
His ceiling is much higher than Jordan's coming into the NBA, but three All-NBA teams, a couple All-Defence teams, two rebounding titles and an All-Star appearance isn't a bad benchmark to set for the 19-year-old centre.
Nacho Losilla (@Losilla_): Draft comparisons are always difficult, so it's even harder to come up with one for someone like Wiseman, who played in only three games this season.
Even so, we saw enough in those three games to get a sense of what Wiseman is capable of. There simply aren't many players his size with the speed, athleticism and mobility he possesses. Basketball is constantly evolving, but there's no reason why Wiseman can't succeed at the next level, whether it is as a No. 1 option or as more of a sidekick.
So ... who would I compare him to? While no two players are the same, Wiseman reminds me of a bigger, less polished Chris Bosh. He's more of a traditional centre, but he's a smooth lefty who can score in the post and has flashed some potential as a floor spacer. He has a long way to go to be the defender Bosh was, but he at least has the tools to be a difference-maker on that end of the court.
Even if Wiseman becomes Chris Bosh-lite in the NBA, that would make him worthy of a high pick in this draft.
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