Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green reached a major milestone in his recovery on Saturday, as he returned to practice with the team for the first time since early January. He did not go five-on-five, but participated in numerous drills and conditioning work. 

Speaking to reporters afterward, Green said his progress has been "tremendous." 

"I think, where I am today, if you knew where I was eight weeks ago or seven weeks ago, it's night and day," Green said. "I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. I spent six weeks just sitting in the weight room, working in there for four, five hours a day."

Green has not played real minutes since Jan. 5 -- he technically started in Klay Thompson's return but subbed out immediately -- and was initially diagnosed with a calf injury. Further tests and evaluation later revealed that the calf pain was stemming from a disc problem in his lower back. 

Back injuries are always going to be taken seriously, especially with veterans, which is why the Warriors have been extra cautious with Green's rehab. In fact, it's still not clear when he'll be able to play again, though Green said he's hoping it will be before the end of the regular season. 

"Like I said, as soon as I feel like I'm whole and can get back out there and get my feet back under me before the playoffs, great," Green said. "If that's 15 games, fantastic. If it's 10, I'll make do. If it's five, then five is going to have to work."

The Warriors, who are currently trying to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, are 28-6 with Green in the lineup this season, and 15-9 without him. His defensive brilliance, his playmaking and the connection and understanding he has with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are invaluable. 

But while it would help to get him back as soon as possible, they also know they aren't going to win the championship without Green operating at something close to 100 percent. That's why they'll continue to be patient with his recovery, even if it costs them some games and seeding in the short term.