SACRAMENTO – Second-guessing is a thing of the past for 21-year-olds Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Warriors coaches and players can feel it, and it’s a message that has been reiterated over and over again to the two former lottery picks.
“That’s what the coaching staff and guys on our team keep telling them to do, is hoop and play,” Chris Paul said Friday night in his postgame press conference at Golden 1 Center. “You see the work, you see it day in and day out.”
The Warriors weren’t keeping their beliefs of Kuminga and Moody taking a Year 3 leap quiet throughout the offseason, and the two have been rewarded early this season, especially in the Warriors’ 122-114 road win against the Sacramento Kings.
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Steph Curry’s 41 points made all of Sacramento cover their eyes yet again, and kept the Kings’ beam in solitary confinement for the night. But the Warriors needed others to step up around Curry. A handful did, with Kuminga and Moody as bright secondary stars.
Curry’s plus-minus was a plus-10 in Golden State’s eight-point win. Kuminga was right behind him as a plus-9 off the bench. Moody, however, topped both teammates and finished as a game-high plus-11 in reserve.
“I’m just seeing Mo is being active, getting on boards. Mo is just a gamer,” Klay Thompson said after the win. “He’s not afraid of the moment. He’s a great shooter, he’s a great athlete. He just does the little things that help you win, whether it’s keeping the play alive, getting a big rebound or hitting an open shot.
“To be 21 years old and doing all this, sky’s the limit for Mo.”
Golden State Warriors
Moody and Kuminga for the second straight game to begin the season led the bench in scoring. Kuminga scored 12, his same total from the Warriors’ season-opening loss to the Phoenix Suns. Moody added 10, one fewer than the opener.
The difference for the Warriors on Friday night was the second and third quarters, and Kuminga and Moody were right in the mix of success in both quarters. The Warriors were outscored by 12 points combined in the first and fourth quarters. Between the second and third quarters, though, they had a 20-point advantage over the Kings, 75-55.
Kuminga in that span played 12:47 and scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, also adding three rebounds. Moody was on the court for 11:20 over that period and scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including making both of his 3-point attempts, plus he also had three rebounds and two steals.
As Andrew Wiggins has eased his way into the season shooting the ball, Steve Kerr handed out an interesting minutes distribution for his wings. Wiggins totaled 27 minutes, but Kuminga (26 minutes) and Moody (21 minutes) weren’t far behind. Kerr has said he’s going to go with the hot hand, offensively and defensively, and Kuminga and Moody are going to make it hard for Kerr to keep them stuck to the sidelines.
“I think they’re just playing with much more confidence,” Warriors center Kevon Looney said. “I think their basketball IQ is a little higher this year than it was last year. They know where to be on both ends of the court. They know what’s a good shot for them. We’ve seen flashes of it all last year, but I think they’ve been more consistent with everything they’re doing and they’re playing with more force.
“When they’re playing well, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
Looney knows what it’s like to be a teenager drafted to a Kerr-led Warriors team. He has gone through the process of earning his minutes, gaining trust and perfecting his craft. Kuminga and Moody have taken the right steps to be on the same path, and are getting closer to rising towards their ceiling.
If their consistency is a steady climb instead of rolling hills, the two can make the Warriors’ ceiling that of a championship-caliber team.