Jonathan Kuminga Provides Glimpse of Warriors’ Beautiful Future Against Grizzlies

Kuminga offers a glimpse of a wonderful future against the Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Jonathan Kuminga turned in one of the best performances of his 135-game NBA career on Saturday in Memphis, and it wasn’t enough to keep the Warriors from dropping 14 points. They were relatively unconcerned.

The Warriors didn’t embrace defeat, but Kuminga’s performance allowed them to better digest the result. They seemed to understand that this was a night when what they saw was more important than what they received.

The Warriors got the L, deservedly so, but they also caught a glimpse of Kuminga playing as they expect him to for the next 10 seasons. The long-term view is sometimes more important.

“JK played at both ends, knocked his trio down and bounced back,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters at FedExForum after the Grizzlies’ 133-119 loss. “That was the biggest thing. That’s what we’re looking for all the time.”

Kuminga’s raw numbers were impressive: a team-high 24 points, 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep, eight rebounds, team-tying, three assists, one steal and one block. In all, 30 productive minutes.

However, it was Kuminga’s approach to his work that was most impressive. He displayed a fine blend of savagery and prudence. The young striker avoided forced shots that killed possession and, with one exception, the silly free kick. He was patient, shooting when he should, attacking when it was the right move, and defending better than most of his teammates.

That was about as “old-timer” as 20-year-old Kuminga, in his second season in the NBA, ever sounded.

“Your improvement has been great,” said Draymond Green. “He’s exactly where you would expect a guy to be at this point in his career, continuing to grow and get better at it, understanding more, becoming more and more credible. That’s all you can ask for. As far as confidence goes, you just have to stay the course.

With Andrew Wiggins on leave and Andre Iguodala out with a broken left wrist, Kuminga is the most intriguing winger in the active squad. Klay Thompson tends to bring the offense, but his defense has been exploited. Anthony Lamb has subtle cunning, but he can only dream of Kuminga’s athleticism. Moses Moody is on the sidelines of rotation.

Kuminga is a presence on both ends, as eager to take on the most dangerous scorer as he is to charge for the dunk.

“The most important thing is just competing at both ends of the court and being decisive,” said Stephen Curry. “Offensively, the way they defended us… he looked good. And there was no question of any kind about the shots he was making, which is great because you have to make them pay for the way they protect you the rest of the courtside. He has to be aggressive because when he’s out there, especially with certain formations, he’s going to get the shots.

“You have to be assertive and decisive, and he did that really well, especially at the beginning, and he gave us a lot of life and energy.”

However, one of Kuminga’s most memorable moments is perfectly suited for a “Shaqtin’ a Fool” reel. Passing a pass from Desmond Bane at the end of the third quarter, Kuminga, visualizing a runaway jam, darted towards the rim, flew and … lost the ball out of bounds. Turnover, warriors.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Green recalled. “He rocked that one on the fast break, and you go down and rock a few plays there. Who cares? Everyone swings the ball.

“Emotionally, it’s always a different hurdle to overcome than necessarily playing on the court. It usually takes you a little longer to grow emotionally than it does from a skill standpoint. You hope he continues to grow there, and I know he will.

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As the Warriors were slipping to . 500 (36-36) and dropping to 7th in the Western Conference, Kuminga was reminding everyone of what he can become.

On a late-season night, when the stakes are high and most Golden State veterans were feeling the effects of playing the night before in Atlanta, the brash rookie missed a full-on performance.

It wasn’t enough to win the game. It was precisely enough to brighten Kuminga’s future, as well as that of the Warriors.

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