Jonathan Kuminga

Kuminga, Moody poised for breakout after productive Warriors preseason

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SAN FRANCISCO – Since coming to the Warriors as teenagers in need of time and training, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody have seen more than they’ve done. Their greatest feat thus far is surviving the purge.

The Warriors dumped most of their projected future earlier this year, trading James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins -- effectively wiping out three of their four drafts from 2019 through 2022.

Still on the roster are Kuminga and Moody, lottery picks from the 2021 NBA Draft. And as they embark on Season 3, beginning Tuesday night against the imposing Phoenix Suns, the Warriors need them to be ready.

Ready to apply what they have gathered over 27 months of training.

Ready to come off the bench and contribute on a regular basis.

Ready to use their youth and energy to supplement an aging core that will need such infusions during what is lining up as a one-year experience.

Stephen Curry, 35, remains the hub. But Chris Paul, 38, is unsigned beyond this season. Klay Thompson, 33, is unsigned beyond this season -- but likely will be. Coach Steve Kerr, facing his 10th season, is unsigned beyond June 2024 and is unconcerned about it.

“We have a really good, deep bench, a lot of guys who can play,” Kerr said after the Warriors closed out the preseason with a 122-117 loss to the Spurs. “The rookies [Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis] are impressive. Our younger vets, Moses and JK, have really come along and are playing well.

“I like the team that we got, but we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

Kuminga had his most productive summer since entering the NBA and it shows. He has been impressive in practices and dynamic in preseason games, leading the team in scoring (21.8 points per game) on efficient 54.7-percent shooting, including 45.8 percent beyond the arc.

“So far I’d say it was a great one,” Kuminga said of the preseason. “Just to go out there and have a feel for the game, knowing everybody. So far, it’s good. I would say I’m proud of it.”

As he should be. Kuminga is starting to look like the player the Warriors envisioned when selecting him No. 7 overall in 2021. The first two seasons mostly were about spectacular dunks, spirited on-ball defense and looking confused in the flow of the game. The hyperathletic power forward has improved his shooting efficiency, becoming a threat from all three levels -- the paint, the midrange and the arc. His court sense has gotten appreciably better.

The primary area of concern for Kuminga is one of which he is acutely aware. 

“I’ve got to cut the turnovers down a little bit,” he said. “But I feel like today I actually did better. That’s the biggest thing. I’m working on it and watching film. We’re supposed to watch film with the coaches about the turnovers.”

After averaging 4.5 turnovers through the first four games, Kuminga committed two against San Antonio that were more than offset by his five assists. 

Though Kuminga generally stood out through the first four games, it was Moody who put on a cape Friday. After not leaving the bench in the first half, he was the best player on the floor in the second half -- as was planned.

Moody finished with team highs in points (18 on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from deep) and rebounds (eight). The 6-foot-5 wing also was a team-best plus-14 in plus/minus rating over 17 minutes.

“It has been solid, working on a lot of stuff,” Moody said of his preseason. “I want to continue to work on it and showcase on the big stage, with the lights on, what I have been working on all summer.”

Kerr admittedly has been “hard” on Kuminga and Moody, saying he has high expectations. Their rise toward their potential is visible.

“He has really shot the ball well,” Kerr said of Moody, who shot 54.5 percent (12 of 22) beyond the arc in 103 preseason minutes. “He shot it well in the playoffs last year. He has continued to shoot it well in camp. He plays hard every time out there. I didn’t play him at all in the first half, and then in the second half he came out and got 18 points and eight boards. He’s all over the place.

“I am really proud of Moses and his development, as well as JK. Those guys are really coming along well.”

The organization generally has believed in Kuminga and Moody, knowing they were developmental projects. They’re still developing, still learning because there always is more to comprehend.

Both look ready. The Warriors surely hope they are, now and later, for Kuminga and Moody are the only remaining homegrown talent that seems prepped for the post-Curry era.

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