Monday was such a promising day for the health of the Golden State Warriors. Draymond Green was back after months of rehabbing his back. Klay Thompson was back from illness and starting his fourth game in a row., and sixth in seven games. Otto Porter Junior’s back was feeling better, and Andre Iguodala was presumably sleeping in a hyberbaric chamber and getting his plasma replaced by Joe Lacob’s blood boys. Andrew Wiggins was sick, but it wasn’t COVID-19, and he probably wouldn’t spread the illness to Nemanja Bjelica, right?
But then Marcus Smart dove at Steph Curry’s legs and sent him out indefinitely, Moses Moody got his shoulder partially dislocated, and James Wiseman discovered swelling in his surgically-repaired knee.
James Wiseman's return to the Warriors has stalled, sources tell @ThompsonScribe and me. Swelling in his right knee. Not practicing with the Warriors the past two days, as initially planned. Won't play in Santa Cruz tomorrow. Status beyond uncertain. https://t.co/9eOAtSIOGT— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 19, 2022
It’s a disappointing setback for the No. 2 overall pick from the 2020 Draft. Wiseman and the team seemed happy with how he’d played in his three warmup games with the Santa Cruz Warriors, which was one more than previously announced, out of an abundance of caution. Now, Big Jim won’t be practicing or playing with the team, and with just 12 games remaining on the schedule, it’s hard to see Wiseman returning this year. Even Sunday was at the very edge of when he could return and be reasonably integrated into the team. Now it’s looking like fans won’t get to see him until next fall.
Wiseman suffered his initial injury on April 10. 2021, when he fell in a game against the Houston Rockets. He had season-ending surgery afterward, but as of last July, the team was very confident in his recovery. In July, Coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater “He’s right on schedule for everything and, as of now, medical team tells me he will be ready for camp.” But training camp came and went with no Wiseman, and while the Warriors kept it a secret, they eventually revealed that Wiseman needed a second surgery in December. Keep that in mind when reading about the timeline for Steph Curry’s return from his own injury.
While ramping up in the G League (this team loves ramping up from injuries), Wiseman played around 20 minutes per game, the highlight being a 19-point, 14-rebound effort against G League Ignite. The size-starved Warriors were happy to welcome him back, if only to get him on the right track for next season, and perhaps use his bulk and six fouls per game against some of the gigantic Western Conference centers. But a swollen knee means there’s still something wrong with Wiseman’s right knee, and suggests he might end up needing a third procedure.
It’s disappointing and discouraging for a stud prospect who showed some real flashes in his rookie season. Wiseman will have played only 39 games in college and the NBA the past three years, which is the same number of games Greg Oden started his first two NBA seasons. (EDIT: It’s 42 games when you count the G League) It doesn’t help that the No. 3 pick, LaMelo Ball, made the All-Star Game this season, although the emergence of Jordan Poole makes that sting a little less.
As for the rest of the Warriors, Wiggins, Bjelica, and the sore-kneed Gary Payton II have returned to practice, and they’re all questionable for the game against San Antonio. An MRI revealed there’s no structural damage to Moody’s shoulder, after it was popped back into its socket, and he will return some time this season. And Steph Curry will be re-evaluated in two weeks, which means there’s still hope he can return for the playoffs, if not the regular season.
Sad news for Wiseman, but he still doesn’t turn 21 until March 31. There’s still plenty of time for him to get it together, just not this season. After all, even Sam Bowie went on to have a ten-year NBA career!