James Wiseman ‘moving well,’ expected to return for Warriors-Grizzlies

Wiseman ‘moving well,’ expected to return vs. Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area

SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors’ injury report going into their Wednesday night showdown with the Memphis Grizzlies is the smallest it has been in what feels like forever. It also indicates James Wiseman should be available for the first time in 2023 after missing 11 straight games due to a sprained left ankle.

Wiseman officially is listed as probable on the Warriors’ first injury report Tuesday. Andre Iguodala will miss his fourth straight game with right hip soreness. No other Warriors are on the injury report.

Tuesday’s practice at Chase Center, the Warriors’ first full practice in 10 days, didn’t feature a scrimmage. Wiseman was a full participant is all aspects.

“He looked good, he’s moving well,” Steve Kerr said Tuesday when asked about Wiseman’s injury status.

Though the Warriors didn’t scrimmage Tuesday, Wiseman has been scrimmaging the past few days. He says he feels good and expects to play against the Grizzlies.

If there’s one person to sarcastically blame for Wiseman’s latest absence, it’s Andrew Wiggins. Following the Warriors’ shootaround Dec. 30 before their game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Wiseman and Wiggins participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage. Wiseman was part of it because he only played seven minutes the previous game, and Wiggins was ramping up his rehab from a right adductor strain and then an illness.

Unfortunately for Wiseman and the Warriors, he landed on Wiggins’ foot after going up for a hook shot against him and rolled his left ankle. That kept him out for three-and-a-half weeks.

Does Wiggins owe Wiseman now?

“Nah,” Wiseman said. “I remember getting the bucket, though.”

Before being shelved, Wiseman played in seven straight games for the Warriors, including his 30-point performance in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Over that stretch, he averaged 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and a minus-6 plus/minus rating while playing 12.7 minutes per game.

The Warriors have been short on bodies and small in size this season. Facing Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams and the rest of the Grizzlies, Wiseman’s return should be a welcome sight — even in short spurts. He isn’t worried about putting up big points like that career night in Brooklyn, though.

His focus remains defense, rebounding and protecting the rim. That’s what will keep him on the floor in the NBA, and help the Warriors, with a 23-24 record, win games right now.

“My role is rebounding, being vertical at the rim and being a rim protector,” Wiseman said. “I really don’t need to score like that. I can, of course. But I don’t need to.

“I need to do the small things on defense, which will get me on the floor more.”

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Wiseman has played only 19 games for the Warriors this season, averaging 12.7 minutes, 6.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. His rookie year was cut short to a knee injury, which required a second surgery and kept him out all of last season. Wiseman had a strong summer league and looked to be on the path to making the leap in Year 3 after being the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

But he stayed behind the curve. Wiseman spent a month in the G League and missed nearly a month to a frustrating injury. He continues to try and keep the best perspective possible at 21 years old.

“All the stuff that I’ve been through has been out of my control,” Wiseman said. “It’s really just trying to work hard, do what I got to do to get better every day and that’s really all I can control — my attitude, coming in and putting in work and giving my full effort in practice.”

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