There's no denying James Wiseman already has the skill set to put up numbers for the Golden State Warriors. His career-high 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting in the short-handed Warriors' blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday provided ample evidence of that reality, Wiseman's combination of size, explosiveness and budding skill around the paint reminding Dub Nation why he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

But Wiseman's big night was no surprise to Golden State's coaching staff. Much as he still has to learn on offense, it's not the side of the ball that's kept him from carving out a rotation role with the defending champions in 2022-23.

Steve Kerr touched on that dynamic in a must-read article on the state of the Warriors by Anthony Slater of The Athletic, confirming defense is “the biggest thing” about Wiseman's ongoing development.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Kerr said. “It’s his defensive awareness. Offensively, we know he can score. The guy is always going to be able to score. Regardless of what happens in the short term, if he stays healthy, he’s going to have a good career and score a lot of points. But what we need is defensive awareness and the ability to patrol the paint, rim protect. I think his few weeks in Santa Cruz, the practice time he got, the individual attention from [G League coach] Seth Cooper and his staff, was helpful.”

Blocks, steals, defensive rebounds and other box score indicators aren't what's keeping Wiseman from being a positive defensively. It's the nuances and intricacies of team defensive concepts of which he really needs to get a better grasp—the stuff that's helped Kevon Looney evolve into a Warriors fixture.

“Placement on pick-and-roll. Rotations. Even like elbow stuff,” Kerr said. “On a horns set, if he’s guarding a big and the big pops to the elbow and catches and there are cutters going to the rim, he can’t be pressed up against his guy. He’s gotta back off his guy. If the point guard passes to the big at the elbow and the point guard comes off that same side and cuts right to the rim, James is the protect guy. If his guy wants to turn and shoot, we are fine with that. It’s a center taking a 15-footer. You live with that.”

Golden State's defensive rating with Wiseman on the floor this season is 125.1, an easy team-high that's nearly seven points worse than the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs' league-worst mark, per Opponents are also shooting 70.6% at the rim against him, third-worst in the NBA among big men contesting at least 3.0 tries per game.

James Wiseman has the tools to be a positive defender. If he learns the finer points of NBA defense, he'll eventually prove it on the floor.