Golden State Warriors

The ‘brilliant’ rise of Jonathan Kuminga could help lift Warriors in NBA Playoffs

It seemed like an easy prediction for the BASH: Warriors rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga is skilled enough to help Golden State win this season, even in the playoffs. His athleticism is the perfect pair with the space that superstar guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson provide; he’s an ideal target in the paint for point forward/center Draymond Green.

Well, it’s happening. Or rather, it’s starting to. Kuminga has had an incredible February, punctuated recently in a stellar performance against the Lakers on Saturday when coach Steve Kerr matched Kuminga up with superstar LeBron James.

Kuminga didn’t back down on defense and delivered magic on offense, cutting to the basket brilliantly, thanks to ample space on the floor created by Curry and Thompson (who had 33 points in the Warriors’ win, including 16 points in the fourth quarter). Kuminga finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and one blocked shot — and plenty of highlight dunks.

After the game, Kerr mentioned that he put Kuminga on James to test him and give Kuminga experience for the playoffs. That’s right, it’s happening. As Kerr told reporters, Kuminga’s rise this month has been “brilliant,” and his stock is definitely rising, 19-year-old rookie or not.

Kerr’s statement demanded a follow-up question. “Is this really happening? Kuminga? Playoff rotation?”

Here’s what Kerr said, according to The Athletic.

“I reserve the right to determine the playoff rotation (later),” Kerr said with a smile. “But I would expect him to be a part of it.”

The Athletic

It’s no wonder why that’s Kerr’s expectation, especially after Kuminga’s performance against the Lakers and James.  And it’s been happening all month. In February, Kuminga has averaged 16.7 points, five rebounds, and shot 59.4 percent from the field. His defense has been up to par, as well. Numbers again courtesy of The Athletic.

Kuminga, who stands a solid 6-foot-7 and possesses elite strength, especially for his age, is physically imposing, as well. That’s how he can confidently guard James, and it’s also why he’s an ideal fit for the Warriors, who can space the floor like no other team can, especially with a healthy Thompson.

But it was no guarantee that Kuminga would rise so brilliantly. It’s a credit to his insane athleticism and skill and to the entire Warriors organization, from top to bottom. Kuminga is so impressive, it’s clear he has the potential to lead the franchise into its post-Curry, Thomspson, and Green era. But for now, we’re talking playoffs, baby, just as the BASH had foreseen.

EXTRA: Kuminga says he did “okay” against the Lakers. He’s clearly not satisfied, and that bodes well for Golden State’s future.

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