All season long, Warriors observers wondered about how much impact sensational rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga would have in the NBA Playoffs for Golden State.
It’s early, but thus far, Kuminga has played just one meaningful stretch — against the Nuggets in Game 4 of the first round. Though he didn’t register any rebounds, steals, or assists, he ran the open floor and got some easy buckets, providing a lift for the team while scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field in 11 minutes, all in the second quarter. Kuminga also got to the free-throw line, converting 3-of-5 shots.
Kuminga remains a potent option on the bench for coach Steve Kerr, who is smartly leaning on his veteran players in the playoffs. But in Game 4 against Denver, he called on the athleticism of Kuminga. And by the sounds of it, Kerr won’t hesitate to do so again.
“We put him in because we were really struggling and we wanted a spark, he gave us a spark,” Kerr said. “His speed in transition was obvious. He got out and got a couple of hoops and did a really good job defensively. So JK played well for us. He’s going to have a role, whether it’s tomorrow, after that.
“He just has to stay ready because he has the ability to make an impact.”San Francisco Chronicle
So not only did Kuminga get a dose of big-time playoff basketball, he didn’t even mess up. That’s the low bar for a rookie in the NBA Playoffs. Furthermore, Kuminga did enough good things on the court that Kerr is unafraid to go to the rookie again.
It could be because the Warriors are in need of another spark. It might be because of foul trouble for Golden State. Or, if the Warriors continue to advance, Kuminga’s appearance could be based on matchups on the court.
But as has been said numerous times this season, there is no other player like Kuminga on the Warriors, with his elite athleticism and mature-beyond-his-years ability. For Kerr, Kuminga is one heck of a chess piece to have in his back pocket. It’s just a matter of time before Kuminga becomes a major piece for the Warriors, and I cant wait to see how much he contributes to this championship push during his rookie campaign.