Golden State Warriors

James Wiseman sees the finish line after ‘dark times’ during knee-injury rehab

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Warriors center James Wiseman at the podium to talk to the press. It’s no secret why, as his injured right knee has taken longer than expected to heal.

But lately, he’s making real progress, and the public wants to know how he feels about it. After playing his first, long-awaited 5-on-5 scrimmage on Tuesday, Wiseman had multiple rehab updates for the media, starting with the most important factor. He said his knee responded well after the full-contact workout.

The nugget about the G-League is a bit of news. I had predicted he wouldn’t need it. But perhaps Wiseman could use the experience as a mental stepping stone.

That’s because it’s been a long path back for the second-year center. Coming into the NBA at 19-years of age with just three games of NCAA experience, Wiseman has watched his peers thrive as he trains in the darkness, no spotlight in sight.

So it’s no surprise that despite his recent progress, Wiseman revealed that his road to recovery has had its dark days.

“It was very frustrating, going through a lot of dark times,” [Wiseman] said. “I wanted to play. But seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a blessing to get back on the court.”

San Francisco Chronicle/Ron Kroichick

From the dark days of rehab, Wiseman can see the light. That’s great to hear for a young man that was selected No. 2 overall by Golden State in 2020. It should also be noted that Wiseman said he was “running up and down the court, having fun, smiling and stuff,” on Tuesday, according to Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wiseman said all the right things to the media on Wednesday, but as players selected in his draft class — most notably NBA All-Star guard LaMelo Ball — progress in their careers, Wiseman has been stuck in the dark. Not only am I happy for the young man, but I’m happy for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors.

Golden State is in desperate need of frontcourt size, and Wiseman can help tremendously, even in short spurts of action and a small role on the team, perhaps focussed on pick-and-roll action with superstar guard Stephen Curry.

But Wiseman’s path to recovery is still ongoing. He’ll need to play more 5-on-5 before he can progress further and play in an actual game, G-League or NBA.

For his part, he seems to be taking it all in stride with confidence that his time will come. I fully believe in Wiseman’s ability and can’t wait to see his hard work in the dark pay off, leading to a big spotlight centered on him for the remainder of his career.

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