The Golden State Warriors remain ‘hopeful’ of seeing Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II back in the lineup before the conclusion of their 2022-23 season. Head coach Steve Kerr provided his outlook for the key duo ahead of his team’s important win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, though there was no timeline given on their return.
The Golden State Warriors desperately need Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II back in their quest for back-to-back NBA titles.
Wiggins has now missed 17-straight games for personal reasons, having last played on February 13 where he had 29 points against the Washington Wizards. Payton hasn’t played for Golden State since being re-acquired by the franchise on February 9.
"“We’re hopeful to get Wiggs and Gary Payton back. Those two guys were really key players for us in our championship run a year ago. A lot of these game we’re a little short defensively, literally and figuratively. We know we’re capable, we just have to get there”, Kerr said."
Payton is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Thursday with the Warriors having eight games remaining in their regular season. The 30-year-old played just 15 games in his tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers having undergone surgery last offseason.
There’s no timeline on Wiggins who’s clearly going through something serious. Kerr added after the game that “if he comes back, great, if he doesn’t come back, that’s fine too.” Golden State has been a little more pessimistic about Wiggins’ return in recent times, though this is an absence that could end at any time. Given the Canadian has been completely away from the franchise, you’d expect he’d need quite a few days of reps before returning to the floor.
The Warriors have ranked second-last in defensive rating across their last eight games on the road. Wiggins’ and Payton’s perimeter defense will be critical, particularly should they hit the postseason and make a run against some of the league’s best guards and wings.