Jazz center Rudy Gobert is a two-time All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one of the most respected centers in the modern NBA.
But when he was taken late in the first round of the 2013 draft, Gobert was just a raw 21-year-old with a massive wingspan and little understanding of how to play at the sport’s highest level. That trajectory could offer Warriors center James Wiseman a blueprint for greatness.
Before he suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, Wiseman often looked overwhelmed. And who could blame him? He was a 19-year-old who played just 69 minutes in college, had no summer league, and had his first pro season interrupted by injuries and coronavirus-related absences.
To take the pressure off Wiseman and keep outside expectations for him realistic, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has stressed the importance of being patient with the No. 2 pick. Big men are known to take longer than guards to acclimate to the NBA and on various occasions this season, Kerr has mentioned Jermaine O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard as examples of young centers who needed a while to thrive at this level.
There might not be any better such example among current players than Gobert. Though he heard 26 names called before his on draft night, he was two years older than Wiseman was when he entered the league. Unlike Wiseman, Gobert also had two years of pro experience…