Warriors Young Sensation Could See More Time Against Grizzlies: Report

Jonathan Kuminga

Getty/Eric Espada Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors embraces teammate Anthony Wiggins against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena in Miami.

As the Memphis Grizzlies wrapped up their series in Minnesota on April 29, it meant the Golden State Warriors have to make the quick flight into Memphis to prepare for Game 1 on May 1.

That means the Dubs only managed to get three days off rest, despite closing out their first round series in five games.

Nevertheless, the Dubs are facing a drastically different opponent in the Grizzlies compared to the Denver Nuggets. Per NBA.com Stats, the Grizzlies led the league in pace at 102.92—that’s about five points faster than both the Nuggets and Warriors at 96.70.

Depending on how Steven Adams is employed by the Grizzlies, Kevon Looney could see his role completely disappear. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater recently reported that someone within the Warriors thinks the series will eventually switch to small ball—similarly to how the Grizzlies and Wolves series went.

“But someone internally within the Warriors predicted recently that centers wouldn’t last long in this series on either side; Looney, Adams and Nemanja Bjelica would disappear quickly, and it would devolve into a small, switch-everything track meet.”

This begs to question what the Dubs plan to do in terms of adjustments outside of their ‘death lineup’.

Kuminga only played 25 minutes in the first round, but he will very likely be asked to take on a bigger role against the Grizzlies. The rookie’s athleticism and quick burst will match up perfectly with Memphis’ up-tempo style.

The 7th overall pick saw the most action in Game 3, when he logged 11 minutes and provided an instant spark, tallying 9 points on four shots. Now, we may know the reason as to why he got this uptick in minutes.

Slater further writes that some within the Warriors organization wanted to see Kuminga get more run before they played the Grizzlies or the Wolves.

“There was some internal push to get Kuminga’s feet wet before the Memphis series because there is a belief he will be needed more regularly against the Grizzlies.”

Klay Thompson Compliments Kuminga Game 3 Explosion

Every game, Kuminga definitely has plays that make viewers jump out of their seats, but at the same time he is still so young and raw. He is still trying to make his way in the league, and pick his spots on this talented Dubs roster.

Klay Thompson is someone who has always been in Kuminga’s corner all season. After the rookie’s strong play in Game 3, Thompson gave him props.

“Shout out to Jonathan tonight,” Thompson says after Game 3. “For a rookie to not play for the first three games, come in and make the impact he did—it speaks volumes to who he is as a player.”

With the stakes ever so higher, Kuminga is set to see his playing time go up against the Grizzlies. Both teams willingness to engage in an open court run out should give the young phenom ample opportunities to showcase his athleticism.

Warriors Death Lineup Presents Challenges

The Dubs may use their ‘death lineup’ more with the pace of the game more up-tempo, but the Grizzlies do have a notable counter to that. Golden State’s main kryptonite with this lineup is how they give up too many second chance points. The Nuggets were able to avoid getting swept, mostly by capitalizing on second chance points and winning the rebounding battle.

The Grizzlies traditional big, Steven Adams, is exactly the kind of player that would feast offensively against smaller lineups. Leading the league in offensive rebounds at 349, Adams will present challenges on second chance points, especially during half-court sets.

Obviously, things would be different if the Warriors had James Wiseman to deploy, but such is not the case. They will have to rely on Looney and Green to matchup against Adams, and the other Memphis bigs. The Grizzlies led the entire league in offensive rebounds at 1,159, something the Dubs are sure of.

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