Throughout the Golden State Warriors’ rise to prominence in the NBA, the team has often struggled to get to the free-throw line. Those days could be nearing an end, thanks to rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga.
Such is the case when the franchise infuses its veteran-laden roster — equipped with the best outside shooters the game has ever seen — with an athletic 19-year-old man-child such as Kuminga, the No. 7 overall choice in the NBA Draft.
And though Kuminga is a rookie with no college experience, he’s a quick study. After the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers in decisive fashion in their first game back since the All-Star break, he said he knows that guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, among others, have the shooting thing handled, so it’s his job to get to the bucket and in doing so, the free-throw line.
“I’m going to keep it real — the team doesn’t really need me to shoot,” Kuminga said. “We have seven shooters and two of them are the best shooters in the league. I don’t need to be out there chasing 3s. I can get to the line really easy.”The Athletic
That’s right, Kuminga, all 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds of him, is already supremely confident in his ability to get to the rim and finish or draw fouls. That didn’t take long.
He’s realized that with superstar guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, not to mention others such as F Andrew Wiggins, drawing attention on the perimeter, the lane is wide open. So while Kuminga’s statement seems brash and borderline overconfident, he’s simply noticing what’s available to him, undoubtedly with help from coach Steve Kerr and the team’s veterans.
Against the Trail Blazers, Kuminga displayed his new mindset, scoring 10 points from the charity stripe on 12 attempts on his way to 17 points in 27 minutes, along with eight rebounds, an assist, a steal, and two blocked shots.
It was a nice addition to Kuminga’s eye-opening month of February. He’s scored in double figures every game, with one more to go on Sunday, Feb. 27 against the Mavericks at Chase Center.
Kuminga is getting more and more playing time, and his development is going exactly as the BASH had foreseen. With so many shooters in Golden State, led by Curry, the lane is often wide open. Even if he were less skilled than he is, Kuminga would have an easy time wreaking havoc in the paint with such support from the guard position.
Plus, his 3-point shot isn’t bad. At this early stage in his career, he’s shooting nearly 33 percent from beyond the arc. But for now, he’s a role player on a veteran squad. And he’s filling that role with supreme confidence, as he fills it up from inside and the free-throw line — which puts him squarely in the mix for a prime role come playoff time.