Kuminga to get more opportunities after making ‘huge strides’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Jonathan Kuminga got the most extensive playing time of his young NBA career in the Warriors’ 119-93 win over the Chicago Bulls at Chase Center on Friday night. He was a plus-seven in 16 minutes of action, over which he scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.
Though the game resulted in a blowout, a considerable portion of Kuminga’s minutes came when the game was still very much up for grabs. He first checked into the game late in the first quarter, and frequently was matched up against Bulls veteran DeMar DeRozan.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Kuminga had a layup attempt blocked by Bulls guard Lonzo Ball. Draymond Green then pulled Kuminga to the side before the rookie went back out to play the entirety of the fourth.
Kuminga was more aggressive in the final frame and played with more force. He had two major highlights, both dunks:
After the game, Green explained what he told Kuminga in between quarters.
“Every time he comes into the game, I’m just telling him to make an impact,” Green told Bob Fitzgerald and Kelenna Azubuike following the win. “Whatever that means, if that’s defensively, if that’s getting to the rim, making good passes. I thought he was great when he had the ball in his hands. Just take what the defense is giving you, but make an impact. And when he’s getting down to the rim — I told him on that block that Lonzo Ball got in the transition play, ‘He can’t get that. You’ve got to finish that dunk.’ — and he finished every one after that, and it’s great to see.
“But if this team is going to continue to go to new levels, we need him to grow fast and bring something to this team that we don’t necessarily have, which is a 6-foot-8 guy who’s probably one of the best athletes in the league already.”
That’s high praise from Green, but it certainly appears to be accurate. Kuminga’s athleticism jumps off the screen, and already there is evidence of the growth in his game. He impressed coach Steve Kerr against the Bulls, and apparently proved himself worthy of more playing time moving forward.
“It was really exciting,” Kerr told reporters. “He’s really earned the minutes he’s getting. He had a great scrimmage yesterday in our 4-on-4 that we played with the young guys. His attitude, his approach over the last week — you have to remember he missed three weeks, so he basically missed most of camp and so he was swimming upstream a little bit. And I think over the last week, he’s made huge strides and we wanted to reward him.”
“As long as he goes out there and runs the floor,” Kerr added, “plays defense, takes care of the ball and passes like he did tonight, and we’re going to continue to give him opportunities.”
The Warriors have proven themselves to be perhaps the deepest team in the NBA, which hasn’t left a lot of room for Kuminga to get time on the court. But after recovering from his knee injury, Kuminga has been making up for lost time, and the fact that he already is contending for minutes on the team with the best record in the league is a very promising sign for both him and Golden State.