The Golden State Warriors are eagerly awaiting seeing young big man James “Big Jim” Wiseman return to the court, but it won’t be this weekend at the California Classic.
James Wiseman went through a full practice today and said he/the knee feels great: "I really want to play every (summer league) game." Warriors are taking the cautious approach, easing him back into contact before a targeted debut at some point in Vegas.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 29, 2022
Wiseman has missed a full year after a meniscus injury and some unspecified complications led to a second surgery, plus a field trip to Europe to get plasma injected into the injury site. He’s only recently been cleared for contact, so even though 2020’s No. 2 overall pick may feel great, the Warriors aren’t going to run him out against the Lakers, Heat, and Kings at Chase Center just yet.
Summer League is a great time to see young prospects show out for the first time at the NBA level, but it’s also the time when you see lumbering journeyman big men showing why they’re playing in Germany instead of the NBA. It’s a great showcase, and it’s also a great way for a young man’s arduous rehabilitation to be derailed by an aggressive 25-year-old big man for Purdue throwing bodies around trying to get a spot on the Stockton Kings bench next year. And the California Classic is a poor man’s version of Las Vegas Summer League (at rich man prices), so you can see why the Warriors are being cautious.
Maybe the team wants him to get one more week of practice in before the Warriors tip off Friday night in Vegas. Maybe they’d be resting Wiseman on a back-to-back during the regular season anyway, and they want to avoid the Classic’s B2B on Sunday. Maybe they’re ready for him to debut like the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, whose first game in 2019 coincided with a massive, game-cancelling earthquake in Vegas. (Let’s forget that Williamson also bumped knees during that contest and was shut down until the preseason.)
Regardless, it’s a good sign that Wiseman and his knee both feel great, as frustrating as it might be to have his return seemingly delayed again. But if he’s going to spend next season throwing down lobs for Steph Curry and Draymond Green at the Chase Center, that needs to start with Big Jim throwing down lobs from Jacob Gilyard and Lester Quiñones at the Thomas and Mack Center. The good news is that there’s a great crop of young centers out there for him to dunk on.