The Golden State Warriors are sending both of their lottery picks down to the G League, and head coach Steve Kerr said it could become a regular arrangement for the pair.
The team announced that rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody would be joining the Santa Cruz Warriors for what could amount to a double-header. As Kerr explained, the team is trying to get as many opportunities for the pair as possible, which could mean some more regular travel between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
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Rookies Headed Down
Santa Cruz is playing a preseason game against the G League Ignite on Wednesday afternoon, a game that will be played in the Chase Center in San Francisco. As SB Nation’s Golden State of Mind noted, the game is a 1:30 p.m. start with the Warriors hosting the Charlotte Hornets later that evening, meaning that either Kuminga or Moody could be eligible to play for the Warriors if there’s an injury or other emergency situation.
Both rookies have not seen much playing time this season. Kuminga was injured to start the season and made his debut in the October 30 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Moody has been healthy but stuck at the end of the bench outside of Kerr’s scripted rotation, checking in mostly in blowout situations or when another member of the rotation is in foul trouble.
As Kerr explained, the team could utilize the short distance between the big club and the G League affiliate to find more playing time for both of their lottery picks.
“There will be plenty of nights where we’re off and in town in the Bay, and Santa Cruz has a game, and there will be plenty of nights where our young guys will go down and play,” Kerr said on Monday, via USA Today’s Rookie Wire.
Kerr said this would be especially important for Kuminga, who missed three weeks of training camp due to injury and needs scrimmage time.
“He scrimmaged today. He was really good — his physicality, length, speed. It’s all really prominent, especially on the defensive end. It’s all really impressive,” Kerr said. “He needs to play and needs as many reps as possible so we’ll be giving him those reps in practice any time we scrimmage or post-practice with the other guys.”
Warriors Found Success Using G League
The Warriors already have a prominent example of the good that can come from sending younger players for the G League to gain experience. That was the route last season for guard Jordan Poole, who spent time in the G League bubble before returning to a more prominent role. After a mid-season breakout, Poole became one of the top scorers on the second unit and this year has moved into the starting lineup.
Warriors players now seem to be embracing the strategy. Second-year center James Wiseman, who is still working to return from a knee injury that cut short his rookie year, said this week that he would welcome a trip to Santa Cruz to round out his rehab.
“I would like to go down there so that I can get sharp physically, mentally,” Wiseman said, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “And I’m getting there. So whatever happens within that time, I’m down for whatever.”