Less than two hours before making their highly-anticipated number two overall draft pick, the Golden State Warriors announced a potentially devastating piece of news that overshadowed the entire night: Five-time All-Star guard Klay Thompson had suffered a leg injury during a workout in Southern California.
The team didn’t provide any further details, but according to multiple reports, the injury was to Thompson’s lower right leg and appeared serious. He will undergo an MRI on Thursday.
Thompson, 30, missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee but had been expected to return at full strength this year. That is now in serious jeopardy.
Golden State proceeded to draft Memphis center James Wiseman with the number two pick. Standing at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Wiseman was considered by many experts to be the best prospect in the entire draft.
“James is incredibly talented,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s a great young man. We had a chance to watch him work out and have dinner with him a couple of weeks ago and he was so impressive. He’s just bursting with potential, so we’re excited to get him.”
Wiseman, 19, only played in three games at Memphis last year but averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, shooting 77 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line. He was then ruled ineligible and suspended for 12 games by the NCAA, who determined that his college coach Penny Hardaway had acted as a booster in helping him move from Nashville to Memphis during high school.
“Going through this adversity made me stronger as a person,” Wiseman told ESPN on their NBA Draft broadcast. “I’m truly ready to just go to Golden State, learn as much as possible, and just be the best version of me and work every day.”
Wiseman ultimately decided to leave college at that point and prepare for the NBA Draft. He has not played a competitive basketball game in more than a year, but that doesn’t concern him too much.
“I’ve been playing a lot of pickup games this summer and I’ve been really improving my game every day, so I’m ready and I’m prepared,” he told ESPN.
While some areas of Wiseman’s game are still raw, his athleticism and mobility on both ends of the floor are undeniable. His 7-foot-5 wingspan makes him a force in the paint defensively and his rebounding ability is tremendous.
On offense, Wiseman is terrific running the pick-and-roll and he is an elite finisher at the rim. He can also run the floor and finish in transition, making him a great fit for the Warriors.
“Just versatility,” Wiseman told ESPN when asked what he could bring to the Warriors. “(I’m) able to rebound, run the floor, block shots, and space the floor off of my size.”
Wiseman is the Warriors’ highest draft pick since taking Joe Smith first overall in 1995 and their first top-five pick since selecting Mike Dunleavy Jr. at number three in 2002.
In the second round, Golden State drafted Arizona guard Nico Mannion at number 48 overall and Boise State guard Justinian Jessup at number 51.
Mannion, 19, averaged 14 points and five assists per game in his one season at Arizona. His father, Pace, was drafted 43rd overall by the Warriors in 1983.
Jessup, 22, played four seasons at Boise State, averaging 16 points and four rebounds per game as a senior, shooting 40 percent from three-point range and 96 percent on free throws.