The Warriors are close to getting a key part of their rotation and championship hopes back sooner than expected.
We’re talking about big man James Wiseman, who could be back on the court by Thanksgiving, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. He will not be with the team this week on a road trip, but could play in a scrimmage with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.
“It’s been an incremental approach, so there hasn’t been that “ah-ha” moment where he just took this leap,” Kerr said. “We’ve been purposely deliberate the last couple of months and just slowly ramping things up. He’s moving well and he’s engaged in a lot of drill work in practice and doing 5-on-0 stuff. He’s getting a lot of work in and he’s feeling good.”
Wiseman had surgery on a torn meniscus back in April when he landed awkwardly on a dunk against the Rockets. The Warriors have been patient in bringing the young center along.
That’s easier to do with Golden State off to a best-in-the-NBA 11-1 start. The Warriors start a more traditional big in Kevon Looney at center but have their best success with smaller lineups where Draymond Green or Nemanja Bjelica play the five.
It will be interesting to see how Steve Kerr eases Wiseman back into the rotation. Looney and Bjelica work as centers for the Warriors because they play smart, stay within themselves, and understand how to take advantage of the space Stephen Curry creates on offense.
In his first season, Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 51.9% shooting, and showed flashes of potential. But he also looked like an overwhelmed rookie much of the time, running around a lot and not being in position. Kerr talked about trying to simplify the game for Wiseman and shrink his decision tree — as Monty Williams and the Suns did for Deandre Ayton — but in the end, the Warriors need Wiseman to make a leap. He just has to be better.
Wiseman brings a level of athleticism to the front line the Warriors do not otherwise have. The Warriors just need the mental part of his game to catch up with that physical potential.