Steve Kerr met with the press this week in advance of the Golden State Warriors’ first practice on Saturday. And he had good news about former No. 2 overall pick and one-time NBA champion, James Wiseman.
Steve Kerr on James Wiseman: "He's healthy. He's played in a ton of pickup games in our building (the last month)...I think he's got a lot of confidence in that knee now. That's the first step. The next step is finding his role within this team."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 22, 2022
Wiseman missed the entire 2021-22 season due to complications from his knee surgery back in April of 2021, and then a second, corrective surgery last December. He was prepared to come back late in the season, but a setback in his rehabilitation led to the Warriors shutting him down for the rest of the year. That worked out OK for the team.
The man Bob Fitzgerald calls “Big Jim” (Wiseman does not like that nickname) made his debut in Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in limited minutes. He started with an alley-oop dunk, nailed a few threes, blocked a lot of shots, and got tired very quickly, but overall it was an encouraging effort after a full year off the court.
We won’t get too excited yet, because Wiseman injury updates were almost as common as Andre Iguodala injury updates last season. But it’s certainly good news.
As for the other part of Kerr’s statement, he’s not raising expectations or guaranteeing any playing time whatsoever for his 21-year-old big. He’s not guaranteeing a rotation spot for anyone, beyond the starting five and sixth man Jordan Poole. After all, the Warriors currently employ one of the most dominant playoff big men in recent memory, a box-out machine named Kevon Looney, at center. Sure, there’s minutes to be had beyond Loon Dog, but they could go to Draymond Green, or new big man JaMychal Green, or even Jonathan Kuminga as an extremely smallball five.
The upside is that there won’t be an excess pressure on Wiseman to perform, beyond the expectations from his high draft position and high salary. The downside for Wiseman is that he’ll have to earn his minutes. And keep his knee healthy.