[UPDATE 9/10/2021: This article is now free, as Dr. Pandya has spoken about Wiseman in public already. Wiseman recently posted on Instagram an old photo of him coming off a pick-and-roll in a pregame workout and, if this suggests he’s now doing similar things, Pandya has tweeted (sic): “Nice! At the nearly 4 month mark after meniscus surgery looks as if #Wiseman is doing on-court drills with agility / running. Great sign and right on track (if not a little ahead). Bodes well for training camp and regular season. Hoping the knee responds well!” The tweet was ultimately deleted because there’s no confirmation that Wiseman is indeed at the stage of doing pick-and-rolls with a trainer. I’ll have more on this from my sources in a subscription-only insider post.]
With a healing meniscus tear, James Wiseman spent all of the California Classic in Sacramento and NBA Summer League in Las Vegas on the Golden State Warriors bench, obviously. Often times it entailed literally standing behind the team, but even from that vantage point he was still improving his game.
“He’s got to understand his communication as a big man is paramount to stay on the floor,” Summer League head coach Kris Weems told me at the first postgame in Sacramento. “The same goes for Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody (who were kept out of the first of the back-to-back in Sacramento), and even Jordan Poole and Juan (Toscano-Anderson), those guys can learn something — Mike Mulder too — from watching the game.”
Here, close-up, were Wiseman and his imposing 7’1” frame plus his 2020-21 GSW teammates (Eric Paschall would get traded to the Utah Jazz that night), watching from behind the bench in Sacramento:
Another good sign of the bonding of the youngsters between Kuminga, Moody, Justinian Jessup & Co. was Wiseman’s participation in starting lineup introductions and team huddles:
At practices, if not within fifteen feet of the basket where he was shooting flat-footed set shots, Wiseman could be found mostly lying on the trainer’s table (I didn’t bother snapping a pic as he would’ve been looking right at me).
At the first Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center in an interview with NBA TV, Kevon Looney leaked that Wiseman would be ready by training camp. With that tidbit, did our videos of Wiseman at practice and his meniscus rehab pass the “eye test”?
You might not think so, based on various footage of James front-rimming free throws (and taking “bunny” shots near the rim, see YouTube playlist):
And on those flat-footed 15-footers, there’s a good chunk that he missed. Here’s just one of those several videos in our YouTube playlist of Wiseman’s workouts from practice:
There was even a little drill where Wiseman dribbled a ball with one hand and shot those “bunnies” with the other, then switched hands:
But if you’re a diehard fan that cares deeply about the blue and gold, if you’re a basketball junkie who knows the feel of a jumper, like, actual jumping for a shot, then the ball swishing through the net, your heart cries out that Big Wise can’t do more at this stage.
Fear not, DubNation. Wiseman is on track, indeed. I showed some of the video to Dr. Nirav Pandya, who often goes out of his way to tweet comments on injured Bay Area athletes, so much so that he’s been featured on local channel ABC7 News Bay Area.
“That's right where you would expect him to be at this point, given a standard repair protocol,” Panya told me. “More jumping and running starts right around this time (four months out), so I would expect him to begin elevating more and running slowly with progression to more ‘live’ activities over the next six weeks.”
Oh hey, six weeks! In other words, about forty days (from the end of Summer League). That puts us right at the cusp of training camp, which is set to begin on September 27th.
But wait, what about all those short-rimmed free throws and the limitations of shooting to within fifteen feet?
“That would make sense from a surgical perspective,” Pandya added. “By training camp, he should be able to do most basketball activities from a meniscus healing standpoint. Assuming his knee progresses as normal, the Warriors would likely limit how much he is doing in camp (out of an abundance of caution). I would expect them to slowly ramp up his minutes during the first one to two months of the season. It can take three months after ‘clearance’ for the knee to feel normal and for him to regain confidence.”
So it sounds like Wiseman is progressing as planned, but this does give me the knee-jerk reaction of wondering if Bob Myers shouldn’t be pursuing a backup 5 rather than the stated “playmaking point guard for the 15th spot”:
More detail on that, followed by erudite takes, coming up soon (and hopefully at a faster rate than it took to finally write this). Enjoy the process!