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Blazer’s Edge NBA Draft Big Board: The Wiseman Mystery

After looking at Steve Dewald’s top 20 last week, Kyle Garcia delivers his list and focuses on polarizing center James Wiseman.

PK Invitational - Memphis v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Blazer’s Edge continues its draft coverage with our second of three Top 20 big boards in today’s post. As of the writing of this article, the Portland Trail Blazers will have two picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, with the highest likely arriving in the middle of the first round.

The first three big boards from each of our NBA Draft contributors starts with 20 prospects and will expand to 50+ players as the process continues. Eventually, we will dive into our usual player-specific draft profiles.

Here’s Kyle Garcia’s draft board, as well as some brief thoughts on one of the most polarizing players in the class: James Wiseman.

Kyle’s Big Board

Player Position School/Country
Player Position School/Country
Killian Hayes G France
Onyeka Okongwu F/C USC
Anthony Edwards G Georgia
Lamelo Ball G USA
Tyrese Haliburton G Iowa State
Tyrese Maxey G Kentucky
Devin Vassell SG Florida State
Deni Avidja F Israel
Cole Anthony G UNC
Isaac Okoro G/F Auburn
Obi Toppin PF Dayton
James Wiseman C Memphis
RJ Hampton G USA
Tyrell Terry G Stanford
Kira Lewis Jr. G Alabama
Aaron Nesmith F Vanderbilt
Theo Maledon G France
Saddiq Bey F Villanova
Josh Green SG Arizona
Nico Mannion G Arizona

The Wiseman Question

If you’re feeling brave enough to dive deep into NBA Draft Twitter, you will find two schools of thought on James Wiseman. You’ll find some big boards have him firmly in the top three of this class while others have him not even cracking the top 20. Even among the Blazer’s Edge staff you’ll find discrepancies; while I have Wiseman 12th, our own Steve Dewald has him second.

Both schools have valid arguments as to why they are right. Pro-Wiseman people can point to his impressive size, athleticism, leaping ability, rim protection capabilities, and finishing as reasons why he’s worth a top pick in a draft class where a top pick isn’t clear. Wiseman detractors will happily point to his poor shot selection basketball IQ, lack of awareness defensively, tendency to chase too many blocks, and tunnel vision (he had only one assist in 69 minutes with Memphis) as reasons not to take him. What do you do with a guy with indisputable strengths but also very evident flaws?

The hardest part about evaluating Wiseman is his brief tenure with the Tigers before ending up on the receiving end of a NCAA suspension. Following a failed appeal to the NCAA, he promptly left Memphis to focus on the draft. That leaves us with film from two games where he dominated lesser opponents and one game against the Unviersity of Oregon where he quickly got into foul trouble and had to sit out most of the first half (he still finished with 14 points and 12 boards).

The only thing that is certain about Wiseman is he is one of the most polarizing prospects in a class already loaded with polarizing players. Check draft boards across the internet and you’ll see disagreements everywhere on a wide variety of players. Some draft heads see Nico Mannion as a top-20 player (like me) while others think he’s a waste of a first round pick. Some say Cassius Winston is the best prospect out of Michigan State while others say Xavier Tillman. This kind of debate isn’t uncommon in any draft, but in a class like this where the waters are so murky, Wiseman’s status appears to be in line with several of his peers.

For me personally, I’m more skeptical of Wiseman. I believe in the rim protection and know he’s a good finisher, but he’s strictly a five and can’t guard anyone reliably outside the paint. His tunnel vision on both ends is a problem and he doesn’t seem to read the floor all that well. He has an obvious floor on his potential due to his size and athleticism, but I think there are some fairly serious hurdles he’ll have to overcome to be truly elite. I have him 12th, but had him as low as 17th at one point. One thing is clear when it comes to my board: I would feel way more confident drafting any of the guys I currently have above him.

For comparison, here is a look at Steve Dewald’s Top 20 Big Board.

Steve’s Big Board

Player Position School/Country
Player Position School/Country
1.) Anthony Edwards G Georgia
2.) James Wiseman C Memphis
3.) Tyrese Haliburton PG Iowa State
4.) LaMelo Ball G USA
5.) Onyeka Okongwu F/C USC
6.) Killian Hayes PG France
7.) Obi Toppin PF Dayton
8.) Isaac Okoro G/F Auburn
9.) Deni Avdija F Israel
10.) Tyrese Maxey G Kentucky
11.) Theo Maledon G France
12.) Cole Anthony PG North Carolina
13.) Aaron Nesmith SF Vanderbilt
14.) Precious Achiuwa F/C Memphis
15.) RJ Hampton G USA
16.) Saddiq Bey F Villanova
17.) Devin Vassell SG Florida State
18.) Kira Lewis Jr. PG Alabama
19.) Patrick Williams F Florida State
20.) Josh Green G/F Arizona