Kevon Looney has been asked to shoulder an incredible load for the Golden State Warriors this season. After serving as a reserve or fill-in starter during the first six years of his NBA career, the former 30th overall pick has started every one of the team’s 60 games and excelled in the role.
Looney’s efforts have been an underreported factor in Golden State’s success in 2021-22. However, with the playoffs looming, there’s a level of concern about the Warriors’ ability to contend with the likes of Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and Deandre Ayton down the stretch.
Thankfully, former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman — the team’s sole seven-footer — finally looks to be nearing his big return to the lineup, having recently been cleared as a contact participant in practice.
And the Warriors just made a roster move with the pivot man that would seem to suggest he’ll be back playing sooner rather than later.
Warriors Assign Wiseman to the G League
Per an announcement from the team on Friday, Golden State has assigned Wiseman to its G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. As a result, he’ll be able to get some five-on-five in with the developmental club on Friday as he continues his push for a comeback.
That, in and of itself, isn’t exactly a major development; Wiseman was previously sent down in late November and mid-December to get extra court time. However, the timing of his latest assignment definitely raised some eyebrows.
There have been rumblings recently that the big man could make his return on March 1. Meanwhile, Santa Cruz is scheduled to host the Birmingham Squadron on Saturday. As such, the move to send him down seemed (to some) like an effort to get him into an actual game before putting him back out there against NBA competition.
However, The Athletic’s Anthony Slater just dashed those hopes, tweeting:
James Wiseman will not play in the Santa Cruz Warriors game tomorrow, I’m told. Sounds like the plan is for him to scrimmage with some SC Warriors today at the SF facility.
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Wiseman Has Been Developing His Game on the Sidelines
Although Wiseman hasn’t played in since April of last year, he looks to have been fine-tuning his game from the sidelines. As reported by Slater, the 20-year-old hasn’t just got back to doing the things that made him a high lottery pick, he has also been showing off some new tricks:
The general sense is that Wiseman looked solid. He made a couple of passes and reads you might not have seen last season, one insider said. The team put up a video of a smooth putback dunk in semi-transition. Most important, he came through it well physically, allowing him to continue to advance in the final stage of his rehab.
During his rookie campaign, Wiseman logged all of 26 assists over 39 games played. So, to say that finding his teammates wasn’t a strong suit would be a massive understatement. If he can learn to become more of a playmaker, it definitely opens up some enticing possibilities for the Warriors.