Pistons’ Wiseman making the most of his new-found opportunity

Detroit News

Detroit — James Wiseman grabbed a rebound, and instead of passing to one of the Pistons’ primary ball-handlers, the 7-footer kept the ball for himself and went coast-to-coast.

He attempted a lefty hook after euro-stepping around Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo and missed, but he caught his own board and finished a layup while getting fouled by Kevin Love.

The sequence prompted Wiseman to yell, “And-one!” before Marvin Bagley III came over to chest-bump him. It was one of several impressive displays of the young center’s multi-faceted abilities, which he showcased throughout the second half of Detroit’s 112-100 loss to Miami on Sunday night.

Wiseman accomplished a milestone in one of his best games since he entered the NBA nearly three years ago. He had a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds, which marked his first career game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. His efficiency was off the charts, making 10-of-13 from the field (77%), and he was perfect from the 3-point line (1-of-1) and free-throw line (1-of-1).

That drew some praise from Pistons coach Dwane Casey.

“I thought James Wiseman had a hell of a game,” Casey said.

The dominant performance didn’t come without adversity. Wiseman had difficulty securing the ball on several entry passes, which created issues for his post-up opportunities in the first half. Since he couldn’t find much of a rhythm, Wiseman’s teammates urged him to use his effort on the defensive end.

Casey stressed that Detroit’s guards — Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes and Cory Joseph — need to work on getting him the ball in the right position at the right time.

“It’s a timing issue,” Casey said. “I would say around the league, it’s tough for post-up games. It’s almost like a dinosaur. Everything is space and 3s and getting to the rim. We are talking to our guards about how to get the ball there at the right time and right position.”

Wiseman knocked down his lone 3-pointer of the game, a sign of his potential to stretch the floor. He also knocked down a long step-back jumper. He didn’t rely on his perimeter shooting, but utilized it when needed to keep the Pistons afloat in the third quarter.

“In the first quarter, I couldn’t really get a rhythm going much,” Wiseman said. “I was just worried about getting rebounds, passing it out to the guards, running the floor and playing with energy. My teammates told me to go out there in the second half and just play with energy and not worry about the touches or anything. Just play on the defensive side.”

Bagley, who started alongside Wiseman, after missing three games due to an ankle injury, had a solid outing in the two-big lineup. He totaled 14 points and four assists, and encouraged Wiseman throughout the game.

“I’ve played with another big before, so I kinda know how to get out of the way, especially if he’s going to work down there,” Bagley said. “Don’t crowd him up. Stay spaced, or if I got it up top, finding him low. Just trying to not force it, but when it’s there, just throw it up. He’s 7-1. He’s getting that, so just trusting those things and getting better with those things as each game goes on, that’ll come.”

There are 10 games remaining in the regular season for the Pistons, and each one will be used as valuable reps for Wiseman, a luxury he didn’t have with the Golden State Warriors.

Wiseman is averaging 13.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in 14 games with the Pistons and 16 points and 11 rebounds over his last six games. Wiseman has recorded five double-doubles in his last seven games after posting three in his first 67 games of the season with the Warriors.

“It’s all about if I’m not getting any touches, just making sure that I’m doing the little things: Rebounding, setting great screens so my other teammates can get open and really, just playing defense,” Wiseman said. “That’s what I’m focused on the most. That’s what I need to work on. I need to work on my timing in terms of blocking shots and protecting the rim. That’s what I’m working on each game.”

All Wiseman ever wanted was an opportunity to show his potential.

He’s getting that and more in Detroit.

Pistons at Hawks

Tipoff: 7:30 Tuesday, State Farm Arena, Atlanta

TV/radio: BSD Extra/950 AM

Outlook: The Pistons (16-56) will look to snap a three-game losing streak on the road against the Hawks (35-36) on Tuesday in what will be the team’s first meeting against Saddiq Bey since he was dealt at the trade deadline. Atlanta is eighth in the Eastern Conference and has lost three of their last five games.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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