What James Wiseman learned most from Kevin Looney’s breakout season

LAS VEGAS – When the Warriors hired Dejan Milojevic as assistant coach last August, the most important part of his title was missing. Milojević is not officially referred to as James Wiseman’s personal trainer. It could have been when Golden State signed the long-respected Serbia coach who was a three-time player of the year in the Adriatic League.

Milojevic’s biggest celebrity on the sidelines is Serbia’s coach Nikola Djokic when he played NBA MVP twice now with Mega Basket. The Warriors, with their first big man of ages, sought out Milojevic’s services in the hope that he could shape Wiseman, a 7-foot boot full of potential but still in mud shape. With Wiseman’s health advancing behind the scenes throughout the 2022 NBA playoffs, he and Milojevic were inseparable on the field.

About an hour before Wiseman’s Las Vegas Summer League debuted, Milojevi was walking down the arena with Steve Kerr.

“He showed me a lot of empathy in terms of what I need to work on,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview the day before his Las Vegas Summer League debut. “But it has also given me a lot of constructive criticism, and I am willing to learn and observe – I consider it good, I just need to improve the next day and develop my game. A cocky perspective from where I am a second choice and shouldn’t listen, I don’t.

“I really just want to listen and try to be my best, he’s given me a lot of information at the moment and he’s definitely upping my game.”

What Milojevic and the Warriors could honestly not know upon his arrival was how much of an impact he would have had on the player who was supposed to replace Wiseman when he was recruited by the Warriors in 2020. While Wiseman was stuck in all-streetwear after a long season of complications To his surgically repaired right meniscus, center Kevon Looney has enjoyed a breakout season.

Looney played just 20 games thanks to a number of injuries and health issues in the season before the Warriors used their top pick at Weizmann. Last season, Looney played all 82 regular seasons, earned Dub Nation MVP cheers for sending the Memphis Grizzlies home in the Western Conference semifinals and earned a three-year, $25.5 million contract as a free agent to stay at bay.

And while he watched, Wiseman was a sponge at playing Lonely on the court and what he had to say.

Watching him as a person is very humble,” Wiseman said. “Also, he has a lot of wisdom, especially for his age. Keevon is what, 25, 26? For Kevon to be at that age and have a lot of wisdom, I just take on that. I ask a lot of questions. I’m very curious. Just seeing his process.” And what he had to go through and I ask questions, especially during playoffs when he was playing at a high level – he played really at a high level all year.

“Seeing that really gave me so much motivation. It gave me so much motivation and to keep working every day, just keep striving to be my best.”

Now a seven-year veteran and three-time champion, Looney didn’t turn 26 until last February. He has always felt much older, and his maturity reflects someone in their mid-30s much more than their mid-twenties.

Kerr is one of the biggest Looney fans, not just in the Warriors Building, but in all of the NBA circles. As a five-time champion as a player, Kerr knows players like Looney are a must to continue adding rings to the collection. Looney knows the system at home and abroad. His numbers won’t jump off the page most nights, but he makes the right plays and makes those around him better.

Although they have much different skill sets, the above is why Kerr thinks Looney is the perfect example to note.

Kerr said after the season on June 22: “James has spent a good part of this year watching Lon, watching a video of him, and asking him questions. They are completely different players, like I said, but they play the same position.

“What makes Loon good is the nuances of his game. He understands how to set the right screen at the right time for Steve and Clay, he knows when to roll and he knows when to dive to the edge, when to go pocket if Steve is attacked, he knows how to pass the weak side of the double.”

“Those things just don’t happen. He worked at it. He didn’t play Lone the first two years. He was injured too, just like James. There can’t be a better teacher for James than Lon.”

Wiseman was not in the room when Kerr gave that answer last month. He had obviously been hearing these delicate feelings for a long time, and had rooted for how necessary it was to be a disciple and to study from afar.

Just like Looney’s undying value on Kerr, it couldn’t be more clear who should one day be the future of the position that Looney plays with the Warriors.

“It’s really just his IQ and love of the game,” Wiseman told NBC Sports Bay Area when asked what he could take and add from Looney. “I would say his IQ for sure. He is able to run the system and be able to get it [Steph Curry] shots and get Steve’s open shots, and [Klay Thompson] like that. And then work with him [Draymond Green] as a peer.

“I just see it and it just makes my eyes wide because it’s like, man, I can be in that system and I can play at the same high level as Kevin Looney. And that gives me a lot of motivation.”

RELATED: Wiseman, Warriors Agree On His Evolution In Big Season

It was normal for Wiseman and Lonnie’s relationship to be shaky or turbulent at times. Firstly my color with a very high wisman wording as an expected replacement. Hence for Wiseman with Looney flourishing in his absence and re-signing as the Warriors’ #1 priority at the off-season expense.

But this is not the case. Both have dealt with their fair share of ordeals as warriors. Both can call themselves champions, and both coexisting together in the center of tandem makes the current champions that much better.

“I listen and I watch,” Wiseman says. “I have no intention of jealousy or malice. I love to learn and try to be my best.”

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