Since returning from his second suspension of the 2023-24 NBA season, Draymond Green has elevated his Warriors teammates’ play.
Forwards Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins, in particular, have benefited the most from the return of Golden State’s leader.
“Draymond really changed things with his return because he connects [Wiggins and Kuminga] at both ends of the floor just with communication defensively, and the way he helps get us organized offensively,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the Warriors’ 119-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at Chase Center.
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“So, [it’s] great to see Wiggs and JK both playing so well and playing well, together. And it’s fun. You can see the team -- we’re shifting a little bit, with a look, how we’re playing, who we’re playing.”
Kuminga has averaged 24.8 points on 61.4-percent shooting in the five games since Green’s Jan. 15 return against the Memphis Grizzlies, while Wiggins has averaged 18.0 points per game on 61.1-percent shooting during the same span.
For comparison, Wiggins only has averaged 12.5 points over the Warriors’ 44 games this season, while Kuminga has averaged 14.8.
Golden State Warriors
Green believes his communication with Kuminga and Wiggins has been his biggest assist throughout their strong performances, praising the swingmen for being receptive.
“I think it’s just communication,” Green explained to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kelenna Azubuike and Bob Fitzgerald after Golden State’s win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. “One thing about Wiggs, all you have to do is tell him what you want. You don’t have to yell at him, you don’t have to ra-ra-ra him up. You just simply go to him and say, ‘Hey, this is what I need from you,’ and he’ll go do it.
"So, I try to bring that communication each and every night and let him know what we need from him on a given night and he’s been producing that.”
And when Green took to the podium after the win, he had even more to say about Kuminga.
“The way [Kuminga] is attacking the basket, I don't think there's anyone that can stop him from getting to his spot,” Green told reporters. “So at times, I go at him a little bit. Like, ‘You took the 3 and that’s fine, I don’t mind you taking a 3. But can somebody stop you from getting where you want to go?’ Just challenging him and also building trust. He knows that no matter how it’s going, we trust him and we got his back.”
Against the 76ers, Wiggins and Kuminga combined to score 46 points on 66-percent shooting, also contributing 12 rebounds and six assists.
As the stronger outings pile up for the two Warriors wings, the duo gains more confidence -- an area of the game Green is glad to cultivate.
“It’s always great to have the leader of the team giving guys that type of confidence," Kuminga told reporters postgame. “And it’s not like we lost it. It’s just that every other day, no matter if we have confidence or not, [Draymond’s] always there, hyping me and Wiggs at the same time, just telling us to keep going, no matter what.”
The inconsistent Warriors are trying to claw their way out of the depths of the Western Conference standings.
Golden State is hopeful its dynamic trio of Green, Wiggins and Kuminga can lead the team to wins.