Golden State Warriors

Report: Warriors execs have said Jonathan Kuminga could be the ‘gem’ of NBA Draft class

The NBA Draft is fast approaching, and the closer we get to decision day on July 29, the more it appears the Warriors may have a tough choice to make with their No. 7 overall pick.

That’s because while general manager Bob Myers wants to add a player that can help the Warriors win now alongside their veteran core, raw-but-talented prospect Jonathan Kuminga could fall to them at No. 7. Once considered a top-5 selection, Kuminga’s stock has slipped, though just a bit.

But perhaps it wont be a tough decision after all. That’s because The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reports that at one point, two Warriors execs said that Kuminga stacked up well against the consensus No. 1 prospect, guard Cade Cunningham and could even be the gem of an impressive draft class.

Five months back, after Kuminga looked terrific in the G League bubble against Santa Cruz, I had a pair of conversations with high-level Warriors decision-makers. Kuminga, both believed, was in Cade Cunningham’s ballpark and might emerge as the gem of a loaded draft class. The Minnesota pick was top-three protected and the Warriors had playoff intentions. So there was zero expectation, at the time, they’d have a crack at either.

Anthony Slater/The Athletic

Now that the Warriors could actually have a shot at selecting Kuminga, would they pull the trigger? Should they?

I say they’d have to. Though Kuminga struggled with his shooting percentage over the duration of his stint in the G-League, he owns a 6-foot-8 frame with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and is very gifted athletically. He’s precisely the type of wing player that’s highly coveted in the NBA; that spot is also a major need on the Warriors.

He likely won’t be an immediate help to Golden State’s superstar trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but by season’s end, Kuminga very well could be an important piece of the roster.

Plus, despite how much Curry, Thompson and Green have done for the franchise, it’s bad policy to bypass a talent such as Kuminga due to perceived poor fit in the immediate future. Additionally, the Warriors also have the No. 14 pick, which could be a better slot to select a more polished — but less talented — prospect that can help win right away.

Also, I’m not sure Golden State’s star trio really knows their powers, as crazy as that sounds. I believe they are dynamic enough to implement a raw talent such as Kuminga quickly, assuming coach Steve Kerr hands him a limited role to start, unlike what Kerr did with James Wiseman.

Finally, it’s not as if it’s 2021-22 or bust for Curry, Thompson and Green. They are all over 30 years of age, but still have more than one elite year of basketball left in their career (with Thompson being a wild card, due to recent injuries).

Perhaps Myers won’t have to decide — Kuminga could still be gone when he selects his first player. But if he’s available, the Warriors should take a chance on Kuminga and his immense talent despite the need for immediate help from it’s rookie class.

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