Jonathan Kuminga was mostly an afterthought during the Warriors' 2022-23 playoff run, but the third-year forward should have a more prominent role this season.
Superstar teammate Stephen Curry has taken notice of Kuminga’s persistence, acknowledging the youngster’s patience throughout the past few years.
“What you see is him embracing the challenge of what’s in front of him,” Curry said of Kuminga after Warriors practice Tuesday. “I know he is a competitor and somebody who was on a fast track to the league. I’m sure he wanted to be playing more minutes early and have more to show for his first two years.
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"At the end of the day, he has to understand that the best is yet to come for him. There is a role for him. There’s a way for him to help us win games and that will be rewarded in the long run.”
Kuminga has averaged an efficient 9.6 points across 18.8 minutes per night since entering the league in 2021 and should see increases in both figures this year. For an aging Warriors roster that added 38-year-old Chris Paul during the offseason, Kuminga may provide the athleticism and energy that Golden State needs on a nightly basis.
Curry knows that to reach this point of potential stability in the rotation, Kuminga had to spend many nights on the bench behind veteran players. The future Hall-of-Fame guard shared insight on how Kuminga and players in similar positions can create long-lasting careers in the NBA.
Golden State Warriors
“I'm just saying, more of the mindset of letting it come to you,” Curry told reporters. “You don’t really have to force anything. Just keep getting better. That’s how everybody in this league has made it deep into their careers and been rewarded, financially, with wins and all of that type of stuff. That’s how you get there.”
Entering his third year, getting better is all Kuminga has done.
The Warriors have high hopes for Kuminga, as Golden State selected him with the seventh pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The big man has done everything asked of him up to this point, taking advantage of the NBA preseason to further his case for minutes.
In three exhibition games, Kuminga is averaging 26.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 28.3 minutes. His regular-season usage could hover around that number, as coach Steve Kerr figures out his rotation.
Kuminga is in the starting lineup for the Warriors' fourth preseason test Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings at Chase Center, along with Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Trayce Jackson-Davis.