Impact of James Wiseman’s season-ending injury on the Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee back on April 10 against the Houston Rockets.

While Golden State wanted to wait until Wiseman underwent surgery to offer up a timeline for a return, it was expected that the big man would miss the remainder of his rookie campaign. That’s now confirmed.

The Warriors announced on Thursday that Wiseman has undergone surgery in Southern California and will be reevaluated in September.

“James Wiseman underwent successful surgery today to repair a right meniscal tear,” the Golden State Warriors announced via Twitter. “James will begin rehab immediately and will miss the remainder of the 2020-21 season. He is expected to return for the 2021-22 campaign. An update on his progress will be provided in September.”

This fits in tightly with the expected six-month recovery time as it relates to a meniscus tear in the knee. While the Warriors are hopeful that James Wiseman will be back for the start of the 2021-22 season, he’s going to miss off-season programs. That’s a big deal for a skilled 20-year-old center.

Wiseman ends his rookie campaign having averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 52% shooting from the field in 39 games. Below, we look at how his season-ending injury will impact the Warriors moving forward.

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Expect the Warriors to go small-ball without James Wiseman

James Wiseman injury, Golden State Warriors
Apr 9, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman (33) scores during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The idea here will be for Draymond Green to play small-ball center. He’s excelled in that role throughout his career with the Warriors.

That was the case when Wiseman was sidelined to a wrist injury for 11 games earlier this season. That span saw Green average a resounding 10.5 assists per game. Sure there’s going to be some issues when going up against teams with natural centers. This will especially be true with games coming up against the Denver Nuggets (Nikola Jokic) and Philadelphia 76ers (Joel Embiid).

With that said, the Warriors are 9-7 in games that Wiseman has missed thus far this season. The small-ball lineup seems to be working extremely well. That’s been magnified over the past two games with Golden State defeating the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder by a combined 47 points.

The Warriors entered Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 27-28 record and having won three in a row. They are currently the ninth seed in the Western Conference and would take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a play-in tournament if the season ended today. That brings us to our final point.

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Expect the Golden State Warriors to add a veteran big

Kevon Looney is starting in the place of James Wiseman. However, Golden State lacks another true big man after being inactive ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline.

We can now expect the Warriors to look at the NBA free-agent market for potential depth. While it’s razor thin after Andre Drummond signed with the conference-rival Los Angeles Lakers, there’s options. The likes of Dewayne Dedmon and Kyle O’Quinn could be options here.

As it stands, the onus is going to be on MVP candidate Stephen Curry even more down the stretch. The three-time champion has been blazing hot as of late, averaging 38.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists on 49% shooting from distance over the past eight games. He’ll need to keep this up if the Warriors want to earn a spot in the NBA Playoffs. The injury to James Wiseman adds another layer to this.