Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Responds to Jonathan Kuminga’s Complaints

Steve Kerr, Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors

Getty Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the Golden State Warriors speaks with head coach Steve Kerr.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spent time with Jonathan Kuminga in the film room to address the questions that had been messing up the third-year forward’s mind.

“Me with the ball,” Kuminga told The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II on December 26, “Nobody’s guarding me.”

“But sometimes,” Kuminga added, “I’ve gotta take that away to make sure my OGs get the ball. That’s where it’s confusing. Sometimes, I come out of the game not knowing what I did. And that messes with my head. It’s like, ‘What do they want me to do?’ I can pass and I can do different s—.”

Kerr did not take Kuminga’s comments personally. Instead, he used it as a teaching moment for his rising forward.

“I showed him those reasons,” Kerr told reporters after their December 27 practice. “I showed him the plays that we need him to improve upon and do something different.”

Steve Kerr Doesn’t Mind Jonathan Kuminga’s Comments

Kuminga’s frustration came on the heels of Andrew Wiggins’ return on Christmas Day where the veteran forward played down the stretch over him.

“I don’t mind those comments at all,” Kerr said. “Every guy wants to play, and JK’s a really talented guy. But every game, I have to read the game, and [Wiggins] was our best player. We decided to go with Wiggs down the stretch, and those are easy decisions for me. The game before, I think JK finished, and he was playing great.

“It’s just going to vary from game to game for everybody. That’s just where our team is right now. Where JK is, too.”

Kuminga led the Warriors in scoring with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 5-of-8 free throws in the first three quarters in Denver on Christmas. But he was minus-24, a team-worst, so Kerr leaned on Wiggins in the fourth quarter.

Wiggins, who just returned from a two-game absence due to illness, delivered 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. But his explosion was not enough to overcome Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s cold outside shooting as they fell short 120-114 to the defending champions, snapping their five-game winning streak.

Kuminga was scoreless in three minutes in the fourth quarter as he did not attempt a single shot. He ended up with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists and a minus-24 net rating, the second-worst in the team next only to Curry’s minus-26.

Jonathan Kuminga’s Development

Despite his blue Christmas, Kuminga is enjoying the best month of his young NBA career. The 21-year-old athletic forward has scored in double digits in all but one game in December.

The 6-foot-7 Kuminga is averaging 14.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting a solid 58% from the field and 41% of his low-volume 2.5 3s attempt per game this month.

“I’m thrilled with JK’s development,” Kerr said. “What he’s doing — a better job of — right now is just getting the ball out of his hands quickly when it comes to him, so it’s a quick swing, swing when we have an advantage.”

“I’ve seen him get five or six assists over the last three games where he’s caught it and immediately swung it to [Curry] or Klay [Thompson] for an open shot. Those plays early in the season, he wasn’t seeing. He was catching and holding, and our offense was getting stopped. Plays like that, he’s starting to improve upon.”

Kuminga issued a season-high five assists during their 126-106 win over the Trail Blazers before Christmas. Over his last three games, he amassed a total of 10 assists.

“He’s still a young player with very little experience foundationally, “Kerr explained, “so there’s a lot of plays that you just have to show him where the cut is, where the box-out is, where the right position to be in is. All these things matter when it comes down to a one-possession game like most of our games are.”

Kuminga’s comments show signs of impatience. But Kerr remains patient.

“He’s done a great job of really embracing coaching,” Kerr said. “We’re going to continue to coach him and help him be in the right spots and make the right plays.”

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