James Wiseman finally returns for Warriors in NBA Summer League after knee injury

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·3-min read

James Wiseman made his long-awaited return to the court on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Wiseman played in his first game since April 2021 for the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League team at the Thomas & Mack Center. While it’s just the Summer League and it doesn’t mean anything, it marked Wiseman’s first game since he tore the meniscus in his right knee.

He looked more than fully recovered, too. Wiseman finished with 11 points, two rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes, and even threw down a huge alley-oop slam in the first half of their 86-85 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

“It felt good just to run out there, be out there with my teammates and just be grateful I’m out here,” Wiseman told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes after the game. “I haven’t played in a whole year and a half so it’s kind of different for me out there, but I’m going to get back to it.”

Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 39 games during his rookie season before his meniscus injury, which required surgery just days after he went down. The 2020 No. 2 overall pick then needed a second knee surgery in December, and was eventually sidelined for the season. He repeatedly tried to make a return, and even briefly in the G League, but the Warriors shut him down for good in March.

Wiseman didn’t get much playing time on Sunday, and that makes sense. He played just eight minutes in the first half, split evenly over both quarters, and then followed a similar plan in the second half.

The Warriors looked like they were completely out of the game at halftime, too, after the Spurs held them to just 10 points as a team in the second quarter. Yet it was G League Rookie of the Year Mac McClung who brought them right back into it in the fourth quarter with eight quick points to cut the Spurs’ lead to just one.

Wiseman returned at that point and played the final four minutes of the game, and helped with a 9-0 run to briefly grab their first lead since the first quarter. Though back-to-back 3-pointers from Blake Wesley with less than 90 seconds left put the Spurs back on top, it was a late step-back and then a subsequent free throw from Jonathan Kuminga that eventually led the Warriors to the one-point win.

Kuminga finished with 26 points and seven rebounds, and McClung dropped 22 points while shooting 9-of-15 from the field.

Wiseman will likely keep ramping up his minutes throughout the team’s time in Las Vegas before hitting the court full speed this fall. As far as a return goes, however, Wiseman’s was a success — and it reminded fans what he’s capable of providing for the defending champions.

"I made a lot of mistakes tonight," Wiseman said. "I didn’t have the game that I wanted to have, but it’s all good. It’s my first game, so I’m just out there having fun.”

Most importantly, he said his knee felt great.

“My movements, I was sharp out there,” Wiseman said when asked about the positives. “I was really good with my movements, I was running the floor, and my knee couldn’t feel better.”

James Wiseman of the Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman played in his first game since April 2021 on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)