The Golden State Warriors almost certainly won’t re-emerge as top-tier title contenders in 2023-24 without Jonathan Kuminga taking the figurative leap. Fortunately, the high-flying 21-year-old narrowly avoided serious injury while putting his ridiculous explosiveness to use on the practice floor.
Kuminga wore heavy tape around his right thumb and wrist during 3-on-3 action following Tuesday’s practice, the apparent result of hitting his shooting hand on the backboard. Though Kuminga barely used his right hand while getting in extra work with coaches and teammates, Steve Kerr later eased concerns about the extent of his injury.
“He said he didn’t feel anything when it happened because of the adrenaline,” Kerr said on Tuesday, per Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “It got sore overnight. It’s not serious, he’ll be fine.”
Golden State is back in preseason action on Friday, headed to Southern California for another matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kuminga was his team’s best player in its exhibition opener against the purple-and-gold last weekend, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks while draining four triples and scoring from all three levels of the floor.
What impressed Kerr most about Kuminga’s performance on Saturday, though, was his overall activity and commitment to rebounding—one area earmarked for improvement by both team and player coming into his pivotal third season.
“I liked his aggressiveness,” Kerr said of Kuminga after the game. “He shot the ball with a lot of confidence and had eight rebounds, so he was much more active on the glass. We want that to continue. He showed his athleticism and did a good job.”
Even with Draymond Green potentially sidelined for the season opener and a bit longer, Kuminga isn’t poised to begin 2023-24 as a starter. Chris Paul seems set to join Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney in the starting five until Green returns to the lineup and is ready for his normal minutes load, keeping Kuminga relegated to the bench.
But just because Paul is the Dubs’ de facto sixth starter hardly means Kuminga can’t develop into this team’s most impactful reserve. If he continues fighting on the glass and running in transition while playing within the team concept offensively, Kuminga has every opportunity to cement himself as an indispensable cog of Golden State’s present and future. Every team in basketball is looking for big, hyper-athletic wings who can defend several positions while adding dynamic scoring punch.
Based on early takeaways from training camp and preseason play, Kuminga is on the path to becoming that type of ultra-valuable player. Here’s hoping he exercises just a bit more caution while soaring for dunks, rebounds and blocks for now, at least until the regular season tips off on October 24th.