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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Steve Kerr wants James Wiseman to emulate this breakout star

James Wiseman

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been paying close attention to the NBA Finals. Part of the reason is that he wants one of his young players to be paying attention, too.

In an appearance on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky” Thursday, Kerr said he was “inspired” by Suns center Deandre Ayton’s progression into a breakout playoff star. He added that Ayton’s success could be emulated by James Wiseman, and that Kerr has begun thinking of new ways to deploy his young center.

“The most interesting thing [about the NBA Finals] has been watching Deandre Ayton,” Kerr said, via Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I talk to James and text him. I’m just so inspired by what Ayton has been able to do. And I think there’s no reason why James can’t follow that same path.

“[The Suns] really streamlined his game. You think back a couple years ago and he was kind of all over the map. You could tell how gifted he was, but you weren’t exactly sure what he was. They’ve figured it out.

“I’m watching Ayton quite a bit and I’m thinking a lot about how we can use James and simplify the game and make him really effective for us next year.”

Wiseman was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, but had an up-and-down rookie season that ended prematurely due to injury. Ayton, too, took a while and struggled with consistency before blossoming into the player on display this postseason. It’s probably not a bad comparison for Wiseman to look at.

There are some questions as to whether Wiseman is even in Golden State’s long-term plans. Kerr is talking like he is, but things can certainly change quickly if a good trade opportunity comes along.

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