Warriors Coach Makes Eyebrow-Raising Statement on Former Lottery Pick

Luka Doncic Jonathan Kuminga

Getty Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is defended by Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors‘ second-unit shortfall has been one of the bigger stories of the early campaign, and a major factor in the team’s woeful start. And while James Wiseman was arguably the poster boy for those problems before he got assigned to Santa Cruz, Jonathan Kuminga may have been his runner-up.

Entering Tuesday’s road bout with the Dallas Mavericks, Kuminga was a team-worst minus-94 in just 257 minutes on the floor; a mark so bad it almost defies logic. For frame of reference, Jordan Poole was the second-worst at minus-80, but he had logged nearly 600 minutes.

And while the Dubs were ultimately dropped by the Mavs in the Big D, 116-113, Kuminga might have been the player least responsible for the setback.

In a game that left the Warriors searching for silver linings, Kuminga had his most positive effort of the season. Not only that — it may have been the best all-around game the former No. 7 overall pick has played for the Dubs.

Kuminga Impacted the Contest on Both Ends

In 26 minutes off the bench for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the 20-year-old Kuminga put up 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. But he didn’t just affect the game offensively — he also added 10 boards and two blocked shots (while making life hard, at times, on Luka).

As a result, the Warriors actually outscored the Mavs by 21 points when he was on the floor, the top plus/minus mark teamwide.

“Best game I’ve ever seen JK play,” Kerr declared after the contest. “Because everything he did contributed towards making an impact on winning. His defense on Luka was fantastic — it was disciplined, he stayed down, he challenged shots… He stayed patient offensively, just took the shots that were there… JK’s been fantastic. He’s really coming into his own and that’s very exciting.”

Kerr’s excitement isn’t hard to get behind; that ability to have an effect in phases outside of scoring the basketball isn’t something that Kuminga has shown consistently. For him to do so in a game of this magnitude, regardless of the result, is no small thing.

“I try to work on staying positive every single time. Even if I’m not scoring, they’re not gonna stop me from coming in the game and trying to impact whatever is really needed at the moment…” Kuminga said.

“I’m sitting down every single day and watching back what I need to do, what I don’t need to do and just knowing that I’m capable of going in the game and changing the game in different ways besides scoring.”

Steph Jumps in B/R’s MVP Ladder

Doncic may still be holding down the No. 1 spot — and rightfully so, if we’re being honest — but Warriors star Stephen Curry made a big jump to the No. 2 spot in Bleacher Report‘s latest NBA MVP ladder.

Wrote B/R’s Dan Favale:

Awarding Curry the top spot would be fine. I’d like to see the Warriors’ wins toughen up a bit first. Victories over the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves were a start. Beating the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and starless Los Angeles Clippers rang hollow. It still wouldn’t surprise me if Steph is No. 1 next time — or five minutes from now. He has a real, if not likely, shot to become just the third player to win the MVP award after his 34th birthday.

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