Warriors rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga got some playing time in a blowout win over the Bulls on Friday, but according to coach Steve Kerr, it was more about Kuminga’s progress as a pro than the ample garbage time available vs. Chicago.
And honestly, that was clear already, since Kuminga’s playing time arrived early against the Bulls — it was somewhat due to the absence of swingman Damion Lee, who was out with a hip issue for the second straight game.
But according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, it appeared Kuminga jumped ahead of F Juan Toscano Anderson, at least temporarily, in the Warriors rotation. Kerr said that Kuminga had a “great” scrimmage on Thursday and added that the 19-year-old Kuminga is just getting started and is perhaps improving exponentially.
“His attitude, his approach over the last week — you have to remember he missed three weeks, so he was swimming upstream a little bit — and I think over the last week, he’s made huge strides,” Kerr said. “As long as he goes out there and runs the floor, plays defense, takes care of the ball, passes like he did tonight, we’re going to continue to give him opportunities.The Athletic
More opportunities for Kuminga? This early in the season? That’s a bit unexpected and ahead of schedule. But a lot is going right at his point for the 11-1 Warriors.
Kuminga is a superb athlete with elite size, and he appears to be a perfect option for Kerr when he wants to take advantage of the abundant attention superstar guard Stephen Curry receives from the defense. Despite missing time in the preseason, Kuminga seems to understand the simplified role assigned to him by Kerr. (Also despite his immense amount of swag).
Kuminga finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting along with one rebound and one assist in 16 minutes against the Bulls. He also had a plus-7 plus/minus rating. For such a young player, he didn’t hold the Warriors back at all. Again, he understands his role, which is key. He has to start with the basics and go from there.
Does Kuminga’s good week mean he’ll continue to get minutes? It appears he certainly has a chance. He needs playing time to develop, even if it’s with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Most importantly, Kerr appears unafraid to give Kuminga rotation minutes with the big club, and that’s a huge stride forward at this point of Kuminga’s carer.
“It’ll be a day-to-day, week-to-week thing depending on how he’s doing, the health of our team. We need him to develop and want to do it in a healthy way. If that means if there’s a night he goes to Santa Cruz and gets 35 minutes, that’s still a possibility. In the meantime, he’s just gotta keep doing what he’s doing. He’s made a lot of strides.”–KerrThe Athletic
At a built 6-foot-8 with a spring in his step, it’s only a matter of time before we see more from Kuminga, the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft — probably making plays such as these two dunks.
Though these two plays actually were in garbage time, Kuminga appears on track to hit the big time and help Curry and the other Warriors veterans in Golden State, and perhaps earlier than expected. For now, he’ll simply keep on striding in the right direction.