If the Golden State Warriors are serious about contending for another NBA Championship this season, they need to take a real look in the mirror ahead of the trade deadline. Up to this point, they haven’t been able to break out of the Play-In race, and their bench is a big reason why.
Losing guys like Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Nemanja Bjelica put a real dent in their bench depth, and their youngsters haven’t been able to step up in their place. In turn, they could look toward the trade market. According to sources who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports, the Warriors have been assessing the market for Jonathan Kuminga.
“We have not talked to them about Kuminga, but a lot of teams have,” a Western Conference executive told Deveney. “Wiseman is tough because they still believe in him, and they don’t want the fact that they took him and not LaMelo [Ball] to come off as some huge mistake. Plus, what kind of value does [James] Wiseman have, anyway? I am not saying they’re shopping Kuminga, but they’re getting an idea [of] what the market is, which is what you’ve got to do in that situation.”
Kuminga has recently earned a more regular part in the rotation thanks to his defensive abilities – something he’s leaned on in his young career. And with the lack of frontcourt depth the Warriors employ on the roster, they need him to be at the top of his game.
So far this year, the 20-year-old forward has appeared in 33 of the Warriors’ 43 games and is playing 18.6 minutes per contest, which is up from the 16.9 minutes per game he played in his rookie season. He’s averaging 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on 47.2% shooting from the field and 25.8% shooting from behind the three-point line.
Steve Kerr Sounds Off on Jonathan Kuminga’s Defense
As noted, Kuminga has earned more playing time due to his impressive defensive abilities. Before he locked in on that end of the court, he wasn’t a part of the regular rotation. And according to head coach Steve Kerr, once he realized that top-notch defense was the key, he earned more time.
“Honestly he realized that’s his ticket to playing time,” Kerr said on 95.7 The Game’s Damon & Ratto. “Like all young players, he wants to score and he’s got that potential, but it’s not what we need from him right now.”
And while he’s been out due to an injury as of late, he was consistently playing over 20 minutes prior to his absence.
Klay Thompson Shows Love to Jonathan Kuminga
Kerr isn’t the only one impressed with Kuminga, though. His teammates have given him his flowers as well. After a recent Warriors win over the Charlotte Hornets, Klay Thompson gave Kuminga his props, noting his clutch buckets and stellar defense.
“Incredibly proud,” Thompson said. “I mean just huge buckets down the stretch while playing full-court defense on-ball. Without him, his effort, we would not have won tonight. So, I’m incredibly proud of JK. He’s just coming into his own.”