Steve Kerr

Draymond calls criticism of how Kerr coaches Warriors' younger players ‘unfair'

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Steve Kerr often has come under fire throughout his 10-year Warriors tenure because of the short leashes he places on younger players and some of his rotation decisions. 

But Draymond Green, longtime forward under Kerr, believes much of the criticism that his coach faces is unfair.

The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on Saturday shared Green’s perspective on the noise surrounding Kerr, specifically the coach's delayed insertion of two-way phenom Johnathan Kuminga into the Warriors’ starting lineup.

“I think [Kerr] gets a lot of criticism for, ‘Oh, he’s not playing young guys,' ” Draymond told Kawakami. “But would JK have been as ready as he is now a year ago? I personally don’t think so. I think we all believed in what JK could become. But you almost do JK a disservice by not giving him credit [for] the work he put in to become the player that he’s become this year.

“I think Steve has caught a lot of unfair criticism about playing young guys when No. 1, you haven’t had to or needed to, but as soon as you’ve needed to, you’re doing it. And you’ve made that adjustment, and look at what it’s done for us this season.”

Green believes Kerr was right to limit Kuminga’s minutes until relatively recently, as the 21-year-old wouldn’t have developed as he now has. 

The four-time NBA All-Star added that Golden State hasn’t needed to resort to its young guys, which is true big-picture-wise, considering the Warriors have won four NBA championships in the era of Kerr, Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

Kerr shared a similar stance on the Kuminga situation as Green did.

“That’s the thing with this, there’s no formula,” Kerr told Kawakami. “And I for sure have made my share of mistakes with these guys and with our team. That’s part of it. This is not a science, and you’re trying to nudge these guys along.

“I think what happened with JK is he had a breakthrough the last two months and he started to do the things that we’ve really been harping on. And then that sort of fed on itself … we started giving him more rope. I think the change in the starting lineup helped him quite a bit, with Draymond at the five.”

Kerr also emphasized Kuminga’s development across his first three years — a process that’s often rushed for players drafted as high as he was (No. 7 in 2021), as they’re immediately expected to blossom. Kuminga is soaring this season, averaging 19.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists over his last 20 games. 

Kerr has trusted young players other than Kuminga this season, replacing Thompson with rookie Brandin Podziemski in Golden State’s starting five just before NBA All-Star weekend.

And while Kerr’s tactics often are disputed, the Warriors are trending in the right direction. They were 11-4 in their last 15 games entering Sunday and 29-26 overall, good for 10th in the Western Conference.

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