BOSTON — They’ve been playing just in mop-up situations in these NBA Finals, the outcome no longer in doubt. But Golden State’s Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga have nonetheless etched a line in the league’s history.
This is the first time two lottery picks on the same team have participated in The Finals in their rookie year.
It’s certainly a circumstantial honor — most lotto picks go to bad teams, the Warriors’ injury-hampered 2020-21 season got them Moody at 14 in the draft, and the Andrew Wiggins trade with Minnesota netted them Kuminga at 7.
But even from the pine, they’re getting something out of the series.
“It’s an experience,” Moody told Heavy.com. “It’s an opportunity that not many people get this early in their career, to go through the trials and tribulations of the playoffs of an NBA season and just getting a front-row seat to figure it all out.”
Moody hasn’t been out of the picture for the entire postseason. He averaged a quarter’s worth of playing time (12.8 minutes) against Dallas as the Warriors earned the trip to The Finals.
“I’m going through everything,” said the 6-6 shooting guard. “I got the opportunity to get out there and get some runs in the conference finals. But even when I’m not on the floor, just being able to be a part of it and see it and go through it is a help. So when I am actually out there, it’s not going to be my first rodeo.
“Given the opportunity that I had and the blessing that it was to be drafted in the lottery and then get the experience and go through this, it’s an ideal situation.”
It was thought that Kuminga might get a longer look against the Celtics in this series, but he’s seen just eight minutes in the first five games.
“I’m getting the experience… just watching how things are in the Finals, how you’ve got to take pretty much everything serious, certain plays and stuff like that,” he said.
But the 6-8 forward is obviously itching for more. Asked if it’s been a positive time for him, Kuminga said, “Kinda. I’ll say 50-50.”
Pritchard’s Role in Flux
Payton Pritchard still stand 6-1 (program height), but the second-year Celtic has been shrinking in the rotation.
After averaging 15.3 minutes and 5.3 shots in the first 15 games, he’s seen a drop in opportunity beginning with Game 5 of the conference finals against Miami. In the eight games since, Pritchard has played just 8.8 minutes per outing, taking 2.6 shots.
And it’s little surprise that his shooting percentages have gone from .468 (.382 on treys) in the first cluster to .286 and .200 since.
Prior to Game 6, one NBA coach told Heavy.com, “You can’t expect a guy to play spot minutes and think he’s going to just make shots. Then he misses a couple, and you say, ‘Well, he can’t play.’ No, you can’t say that. You’ve got to give a guy a fair shake. You just can’t get that with spot minutes or standing in the corner. Pritchard isn’t just standing in the corner, but that’s what they ask (Grant) Williams to do a lot. You’re not involved in the flow. That’s hard to do.”