ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst appeared on “Pardon The Interruption” with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon Tuesday, February 15. During the PTI interview, the hosts asked Windhorst which franchise he believes is the favorite to emerge from the Western Conference this season. Windhorst mentioned only two teams: the Warriors and the Phoenix Suns. However, he ultimately leaned toward the Suns after noting Green’s prolonged injury and questioning the level of honesty coming from Golden State as to their star forward’s health status.
“I’m just not sure about Draymond Green’s injury,” Windhorst said. “I know that they have said that they think he’ll be back, but the Warriors’ track record of telling the truth on injuries this year has not been good.”
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Warriors Draymond Green Still Out Indefinitely With Injury
The Warriors have played 21 consecutive games without Green since he went down with a calf injury on January 9 — the same night that Dubs guard Klay Thompson returned to action following two and a half years on the sidelines due to health problems of his own.
The Dubs have gone 13-8 during that stretch — a solid effort for most teams, especially minus their best defender, but decidedly pedestrian when gauged against the 29-9 mark the Dubs amassed before Green was hurt. Golden State currently occupies the second position in the Western Conference, though the Memphis Grizzlies have closed to within 1.5 games of the Warriors as the All-Star break arrives.
Still up 5.5 games on the fourth-place Utah Jazz with just over 20 regular season contests to play, the Warriors are not likely to fall below third place in the West regardless of Green’s status. However, the team’s prospects of postseason success grow dicier the longer he is out. Green was not only the best defender on the Warriors’ roster, he was the best defender in all of the NBA based on defensive rating before suffering his calf injury, per StatMuse.
Upon further examination, experts determined that Green’s calf problems were connected to an issue with a disc in his back. That discovery complicated his recovery and extended the return timeline. Green speculated publicly as to when he might return to active status before a game against the Sacramento Kings on February 3.
“I’m hoping sometime within the next three or four weeks. I can’t put a definite timeline on it,” he said. “At this point, I’m just rehabbing and building strength and letting my body heal. Ideally, I’d like to be back in three to four weeks, but I can’t guarantee that.”
“When dealing with my back, one thing I’m not going to do is rush back out there. If I’m not back in three weeks, that also doesn’t mean I’m not able to play in three weeks either,” Green continued. “I want to return when I’m 100 percent confident that I’m healthy, when I feel like I’m in great shape.”
Warriors Big Man James Wiseman Has Yet to Play This NBA Season
Windhorst’s suspicions about Green’s health are tied to the progress of another injured Warriors player, second-year big man James Wiseman.
Wiseman has not played since the middle of his rookie campaign, during which he suffered an MCL injury that required surgery. Golden State indicated that the young star would return sometime during the 2021-22 regular season, though initial projections had him back at full strength around the same time as Thompson. Fast-forward several months and Thompson has been back for more than 20 games, while Wiseman has yet to play a single minute.
The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reported Tuesday that Wiseman took part in 5-on-5 scrimmaging at practice for the first time since suffering the MCL injury. That report has fueled hopeful speculation that Wiseman is soon to return to the court, but his health has taken poor turns in the recent past. It was late January when head coach Steve Kerr told KNBR that the team “thought he would be back by now.” Kerr went on to describe himself “the boy who cried wolf” when it came to Wiseman’s return timeline.
Slater also reported in mid-January that Wiseman had undergone arthroscopic surgery in December, a procedure that was not part of his initial rehabilitation program and one that was not immediately made public by Golden State’s front office.
The team is under no obligation to be entirely transparent about the health of their banged up big men, but failing to do so on a consistent basis breeds doubts like those Windhorst voiced on PTI Tuesday. Those doubts, in turn, lead to legitimate concern about whether the Warriors will be fully healthy when the NBA Playoffs begin.
If they aren’t healthy, questions about whether or not Golden State’s MVP candidate Steph Curry can drag the Dubs to postseason glory with only the help of a still re-assimilating Thompson and a host of role players are bound to follow.