Wiggins' conditioning ‘not terrible,' hopes return is seamless


SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday was back at Chase Center after being away for nearly two months, sitting alongside Warriors general manager Bob Myers as the star forward addressed the media for the first time since stepping away from the team to handle a family matter. 

When Wiggins will be back on the court for game action remains unclear. But he believes he'll be ready to roll sooner than later. 

"I don't think it'll be too long before I'm out there," Wiggins said. 

Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wiggins will miss his 23rd straight game. He won't play, but will be in attendance for the entirety of the Warriors' battle with OKC. Steve Kerr ruled out Wiggins playing in the next few days, but didn't shut down the possibility of Wiggins appearing in a game before the end of the regular season. 

Following Tuesday night's game, the Warriors only have two more regular-season contests remaining: Friday in Sacramento against the Kings and Sunday in Portland against the Trail Blazers. If Wiggins were to play in either of the two, Sunday seems to be more realistic. 

While he won't be wearing his Warriors jersey again just yet, Wiggins was back in the gym on Tuesday. He went through an on-court workout with assistant coach Jama Mahlalela and worked with director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini in the training room. 

"They were able to kind of get a look at where he is," Kerr said. "He got some shots up and I think he was on the bike. We'll just take it day by day from here." 

Wiggins, with a fresh haircut, looked happy and supported sitting next to Myers but also skinnier with his 6-foot-7 frame. Throughout his absence from the Warriors, Wiggins has been working out on his own. He says he used working out as a positive distraction, too. 

In his own words, Wiggins "got a lot of shots up" and lifted "a couple of times." He spent plenty of time on the treadmill, though his conditioning moreso was ingrained into his workouts.

So, how would Wiggins, who turned 28 years old during his time away, assess his current physical shape? 

"Not terrible," Wiggins said. "I've been working out. Obviously the NBA is a different type of conditioning." 

The last time Wiggins was on the floor was one of his best games of the season. In a nine-point win against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 13, Wiggins was a plus-21 in plus/minus. He scored 29 points, his third-highest this season, along with seven rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers. 

That's the player the Warriors saw in the playoffs last season, the same one who was their second-best player in the NBA Finals en route to a championship. 

But Wiggins' season has been full of ups and downs, even before missing more than 20 straight games. Usually a workhorse who rarely misses games, Wiggins thus far has only played 37 this season. He also missed 15 straight due to an adductor issue and multiple illnesses. Right before he rightfully chose family over basketball, Wiggins was feeling like himself again. 

"I felt really good right before I left, that last game," Wiggins said. "I feel like I was in rhythm, making shots and defending well. Hopefully I'll be right back where I left off." 

Regarding Kerr's plans with Wiggins once he's deemed ready to play, everything is up in the air. Kerr wouldn't share if Wiggins will start or come off the bench. He hasn't even thought about the integration process. 

There simply is too much at stake before then.

The impact Wiggins will have, however, is obvious -- even if it takes some time. As the Warriors fight to avoid the dreaded play-in tournament and secure a top-six seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs, the defending champions are about to get one of the best two-way players in basketball, right before beginning the season they're most familiar with. 

"I think Andrew is a two-way player at the highest level," Kerr sad. "He was one of our most important players last year in the playoffs. And I think you guys know the playoffs are really about two-way basketball. Can you put someone on the court like Andrew who can score and defend at the same time? 

"Our teams here have always been blessed with a lot of those players, and when you can do that consistently, put two-way lineups on the court, you have a better chance to win. It's just that simple. He's one of our best two-way guys. Last year in the playoffs, he was scoring 17, 18 points a game, one of our best rebounders and we put him on the best offensive player night after night. 

"That's what he brings." 

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A team with championship aspirations can't ask for much more at this point in the season. The Warriors have business to take care of first. Wiggins' return to games ultimately will come down to Celebrini and his staff. 

He expects to soon lace up his sneakers and put on his No. 22 jersey, making the hardwood his home again. 

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