With all the success the Golden State Warriors have enjoyed through the early part of these playoffs, much of their young players have taken a back seat in the rotation.
When the veterans of the Dubs were injured, young guys like Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody played huge minutes for long stretches of the season. This in part helped hone their skills and confidence on the court, not something other contending teams offer to players so young.
But now with the veterans back for the playoffs, that has mostly squeezed much of the younger guys out of the rotation. Having said that, Steve Kerr offered some words of wisdom for his young players, especially Kuminga.
“That’s a big part of the playoffs,” Kerr says after practice on April 23. “Everyone staying ready. A guy like JK [Kuminga] has never been through it. He can’t rely on experience; he has to rely on advice.”
Kuminga has only logged eight minutes through the first three games of the playoffs, and has not had that much of a role yet through their series with the Denver Nuggets.
“I keep reminding all the guys every day that the playoffs, things change at the drop of a hat,” Kerr continues. “Somebody gets injured, matchup changes, someone on the other team gets injured, they play somebody new. You got to be prepared for everything, and we have a lot of proof of that over the years.”
At least for now, the Warriors do not seem to think the Nuggets are a good matchup for Kuminga. The seventh overall pick has mostly seen time on the floor when the game result was already decided. The team has not thrown the rookie into the fire yet, but that could change soon.
Kuminga Usage Increases in Game 4
In Game 4 on April 24, Kuminga notched a playoff career high of 9 points in 11 minutes. The 11 minutes were more than the previous three games combined of 8 minutes.
In the second quarter, Kuminga showed off his athleticism when he streaked down the left baseline for a monstrous jam on a fastbreak.
Kerr said after the game that Kuminga did great things on the court, and helped the team pick up their sluggish start after they were ‘stuck in mud’.
Although the rookie’s time on the court was only in the first half, this was still a sign of trust showed by the coaching staff to play in meaningful playoff minutes, matched up at times against last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic.
Warriors Believe Kuminga Time on Court Will Be Needed Soon: Report
With the playoffs lasting through multiple opponents in a couple month span, there will be instances where Kuminga may see himself playing in a good chunk of minutes at some point this postseason.
As Kerr said, there are so many different factors as to how someone like Kuminga could see more time on the floor. Someone could get into foul trouble or a change of pace is needed during adjustments.
The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II wrote that people within the Warriors think that Kuminga will be needed at some point this postseason.
People in the organization believe Kuminga will still be useful in this postseason. His athleticism and energy will probably get him some minutes in the next round since both Memphis and Minnesota are stocked with athletes. His ability to play in transition, to put pressure on the rim and keep up the pace figures to outweigh his potential for mistakes.
On the contrary to Denver, both Memphis and Minnesota like to run and play a quick up tempo. This would benefit an athletic, high-flying act like Kuminga. He will probably be needed to stay in front of bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr., Karl-Anthony Towns, or Jarred Vanderbilt.