There’s still time for James Wiseman to turn into the player the Warriors thought he would be. This is his second season, he’s only 20 years old, and a meniscus tear isn’t microfracture surgery. He participated in contact drills Tuesday for the first time since the tear last season, according to ESPN.
However, he tore it in April, which was 10 months ago. The recovery for that kind of injury is supposed to be three to six months. He had to have an additional procedure in December to clean up the area.
General manager Bob Myers said he “walked up to the doorstep of contact” before, but his knee reacted poorly, which is why he had it scoped. Coach Steve Kerr even stopped speculating on return dates and said updates will be given in real time.
The good news is the Warriors need him because Kevon Looney, the only true center on their roster, played every game this season until Wednesday, missing it with a quad contusion. Golden State couldn’t extend their win streak to 10, getting smashed by Utah, 111-85, in their first game of the season without him. (He was listed as questionable, so it doesn’t appear to be too serious.)
Small ball center Draymond Green also is out with a calf issue that stemmed from a lower back issue. Last week, he said he’ll ideally return in three to four weeks.
The team has a hole at center, but said they aren’t looking to make a deal for one before the deadline. Like the rest of the contenders, there are rumors a backup could be found in the buyout market. That would be great because the rest of the roster is humming like the team usually does when healthy.
They’re 41-14, second in the West, second in points allowed per game, and 10th in points scored per game. They have two win streaks of seven games and one of nine games. Steph Curry has bounced back from his shooting slump. Klay Thompson is amping up his minutes and form. Jordan Poole is having a mini breakout season. Andrew Wiggins is shooting career highs from the floor (48 percent) and from 3 (41 percent). Rookie Jonathan Kuminga looks like he’ll fit right into the Warriors’ system.
Wiseman is the wild card. He never quite looked comfortable last year, playing 39 games, missing 14 contests total in February and March due to a wrist sprain and COVID before the knee injury ended his season April 10. He averaged 11 points and six rebounds on 21 minutes per game during his rookie year. He had a few highlight dunks, some nice post work, and even ran the break a couple times.
He’s played 19 games total since Feb. 2, 2021. For some context, Thompson has played 12 in that timeframe. If you go back to 2019, his lone college season at Memphis when he played a total of three games due to NCAA chicanery, he’s only played 42 games in the past three years. If you don’t factor in the playoffs, he needs to come back within the next four games or Greg Oden will have played more games in his first two seasons than Wiseman.
Golden State hasn’t messed up a ton over the past decade, so it’s indisputably true to say drafting Wiseman over Lamelo Ball was their worst mistake. The Warriors front office has oozed a sense of arrogance rampant among tech bros and self-important startup ass clowns in the Bay area ever since owner Joe Lacob said they were “light years ahead” of the rest of the league because the cap went up at a perfect time to allow them to sign Kevin Durant.
It’s the kind of quote that surfaces when it looks like you got burned drafting an old-school center. Again, I say “looks like” because there’s still time for this to work out. That said, it’s fair to ask if this team needs Wiseman to do anything more than what’s asked of Looney. I mentioned Looney played in every game but one this season, yet he’s only averaging 21 minutes per contest and shooting less than five times per game.
Whenever Wiseman gets back, is that what we’re supposed to expect from the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft? Play defense, set screens, catch lobs, and maybe get a post up or two for 20 minutes? We’ve seen the Warriors win titles with their style of play, but now clear out and stop cutting to run offense for Wiseman. They were fine letting him shoot nine times a game when he was taking attempts away from Nico Mannion. We’ll see if that’s the case when he’s sharing the floor with the Splash Bros.
If anyone in the Golden State front office can tell me why they selected a center No. 2 overall, when they’re at their best playing without one, I’d love to know. It’s like when the Suns traded for Shaquille O’Neal only dumber because they could’ve had Ball. Oh, and you know who made that trade in Phoenix all those years ago? Steve fucking Kerr.
Wiseman wasn’t a glorified role player coming-out of high school or college, he was the centerpiece for a rebuilding franchise, the kind of guy you build a team around, not plug into the dunker’s spot. I don’t want to see him hurt, but I also don’t want to see him relegated to doing Kevon Looney impressions. I want to see him do this.
Free JIt’s admirable he wants to fit in and play his role, but I’ll say it, he’s a waste of talent in Golden State. If his career gets derailed by injuries, it’ll be a waste of a No. 2 pick, as well.
Don’t listen to me, though, because the Warriors are super smrt, I mean smart.