James Wiseman had a turbulent rookie season with the Warriors.
The young center didn't get to play in Summer League due to COVID-19 and missed all of training camp. Wiseman was thrown into the deep end of the NBA pool and asked to be an integral part of a Warriors team that lacked the necessary pieces to support Steph Curry.
Wiseman started to come on in the middle of the season but was forced to miss time with a sprained left wrist in February and then had his season cut short due to a meniscus injury suffered in April. Wiseman underwent surgery to fix the injury and has been working his way back to full health.
Wiseman was cleared to return to practice Monday, and the 20-year-old believes his sophomore season will be more successful than his up-and-down inauguration to the NBA.
"I understand a lot now," Wiseman told reporters Monday. "Because last year, even though I only played like 39 or 43 games, just bringing that knowledge to my second year, I'm not lost out there. Like I kind of know where to be at on defense and offense as well. So, it's much, much better this year.
"I feel way more comfortable because I have way more experience than last year," Wiseman later said. "Just bringing that to my second year, I don't feel lost, I don't feel confused out there. I feel like I know what I'm doing. This year is way better because I have the knowledge from last year to bring over to the second year and just build off that."
While Wiseman hasn't been able to play for the last five months, he has been working hard to sharpen his mind.
"Mentally, it's come along really well," Wiseman said. "I've looked at a lot of games, a lot of film, stuff like that. I've been watching [Kevon Looney], watching his position, watching how he plays defense and I've learned a lot. And also in Summer League, too, when I was down there."
The Warriors have gotten off to a 5-1 start this season, but will be happy to see Wiseman return as the athletic center gives them a vertical lob threat at the rim and someone who can anchor their defense in the paint.
Last week, NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported that Wiseman could return in mid-to-late November if he doesn't suffer any setbacks.
Until then, Wiseman will continue to take it day-by-day until the Warriors deem him ready for action.
“It’s just been a gradual improvement over time,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He hasn’t had any setbacks but this is obviously something we are taking very seriously and taking very slowly. The good thing is he advanced on his individual work to do all the routine stuff. So that’s a good step. It’s just part of the process.”