Thursday night was a tough game for the Golden State Warriors. The Milwaukee Bucks dominated from the jump in a 118-99 win. The reigning champs even led by 39 at halftime over the Warriors.
The poor performance from the Warriors comes in the midst of their recent struggles. The team is just 5-5 over their last 10 games, and have fallen to a game and a half behind the Phoenix Suns at the top of the Western Conference standings. Furthermore, the team is also just a game-and-a-half ahead of the Grizzlies for second place.
Despite the Warriors struggles, rookie Jonathan Kuminga had a nice game, scoring 15 points and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds. The point total is the second-highest of the rookie’s career. Kuminga’s performance led to some interesting comments from head coach Steve Kerr after the game.
“When you look at where Giannis is now, and you think about him as a rookie, you got to think about JK (Jonathan Kuminga) … Not much understanding of the NBA, not much understanding of what’s going on yet. But that’s exactly where Giannis was a decade ago,” Kerr said.
Giannis and Kuminga Similarities
Given the level of superstardom that Giannis has risen to, Kerr’s comments might sound far-fetched on the surface, but let’s take a look. In Antetokounmpo’s rookie season he averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 24.6 minutes per game. So far Kuminga is averaging just 10 minutes per game, but is averaging 5.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Giannis and Kuminga also rank similarly in points per shot attempt during their rookie seasons. Giannis scored 100 points per 100 shot attempts, while Kuminga is scoring 102.6 points per 100 shot attempts. Both have similar effective field goal percentages and steal percentages as well. Kuminga currently has an effective field goal percentage of 48.5, while during his rookie season Giannis was at 45.4. Giannis had a steal percentage of 1.4, while Kuminga’s is currently 1.3.
With the similarities there are some obvious differences between the two. The big one being height: Giannis is listed at 6-foot-11, while Kuminga is 6-foot-8. Another difference is their background, while both are foreign-born players of African descent, they grew up very different. Giannis was raised in Greece until he was drafted, while Kuminga lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo until he moved to the United States in 2016 to play high school basketball.
Giannis didn’t start playing basketball until he was 13, Kuminga began playing at an early age.
Their introductions to basketball in the US were also really different. When Giannis was drafted in 2013, he was a relative unknown. Kuminga was a five-star prospect in the US and played in the G-League before being drafted.
While some of their stats are similar, the situations they were drafted into were vastly different. Giannis was drafted to a Bucks team that went 15-67 during his rookie season, which allowed him to get more playing time. Kuminga is on a loaded team that makes it challenging to find minutes for him at times.
There are both a lot of similarities and differences between Giannis and Kuminga. Regardless it’s encouraging that a great basketball mind like Kerr sees some similarities. If Kuminga can develop even a fraction of the way that Giannis has, then he’s in for a good career.