The news continues to get better for the Golden State Warriors.
First, the team got word that Klay Thompson will return to the court on Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For Thompson, it’s the first time he’ll play in an NBA game in 31 months, but that wasn’t the only good news.
According to a report from Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area, young big man James Wiseman participated in every part of practice, but scrimmaging, on Saturday.
“He was bouncing around practice … he looked like a kid on Christmas morning,” coach Steve Kerr said. Andrews reported that Wiseman will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip, where they hope he can participate in more contact drills.
The news is great for the Warriors and Wiseman, who has been with a right meniscus injury since April 2021. The team was hopeful he’d be cleared before the start of this season, but his recovery has taken longer than expected.
Wiseman Before the Injury
Wiseman’s rookie season was uneven before the injury. There were certainly times where he flashed the potential that landed him as the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Wiseman also expressed to The Undefeated the struggles he went through after the injury.
“It’s kind of hard, I was really down,” Wiseman told The Undefeated, “I was crying a lot and it was bad. My mom had to tell me everything was going to be alright, but I’ve got a great family support system and I’m a strong person.”
In his rookie season Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game. On the defensive end he only blocked 0.9 shots per game, but according to Cleaning The Glass, his block percentage of 2.2 ranked him 49th in the league.
Impact of Wiseman’s Return
It remains to be seen just how much the Warriors will use Wiseman when he returns this season. The roster is already loaded with contributors and it might be hard to find many minutes for him. One thing that might work in Wiseman’s favor though, is that the Warriors don’t have many post players on their roster.
The only post players currently getting minutes for the Warriors are Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Nemanja Bjelica, and Jonathan Kuminga. Looney, though, is the only traditional post player of that group. If Wiseman can provide some positive minutes when he returns, then it’s certainly possible that he could carve out a role for the remainder of the season.
Looking ahead to the teams the Warriors could face in the playoffs, it’s easy to see the value that Wiseman could bring. All their potential top rivals have strong inside games.
If the playoffs started today the Warriors would face the Denver Nuggets in the first round, could face the Utah Jazz in the second round , and could face the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. All three of those teams have prominent post players that could be a mismatch for Golden State. If Wiseman can play well in his return, then he would certainly provide some value in those match-ups.
Regardless of how much playing time he ends up getting, it’s great to hear that Wiseman is practicing again. Hopefully he’ll be back on the court soon for the Warriors.
‘Kid on Christmas’: Kerr Raves About Warriors Big Man’s Impending Return