Jonathan Kuminga is heading into his third — and most important — season yet with the Warriors.
And so far, he appears to be making the strides he and the coaching staff hoped he’d make this offseason.
In speaking to reporters after the Warriors’ 125-108 preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday at Chase Center, Kuminga discussed his focus on rebounding and how the coaching staff holds him accountable when he doesn’t crash the glass as often as he should.
“If I don’t do it right, they stop practice,” Kuminga said. “It’s been a consistent thing every day. I’m not great at it, but I’m working on it.”
Not only are the Warriors coaches holding him accountable, but Kuminga holds himself accountable and wants to improve just as much as his coaches want him to.
“Kenny [Atkinson] is on me every single time,” Kuminga shared. “Not just Kenny, pretty much the whole team, they want me to rebound more and I want to do that for sure. It’s not something they’re forcing me to do, it’s something I really want to do more.
“I spoke to certain coaches (and said) ‘If you don’t see me crash or do this, after the game just give me a number.’ And I think every single day we’re working towards that and I’m getting better at it.”
In 23 minutes on the court in the preseason opener, Kuminga scored 24 points and collected eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
In two seasons with the Warriors, Kuminga has averaged 3.4 rebounds per game, so the eight boards on Saturday night could be a positive sign of what’s to come this season.
Shortly after the Warriors’ loss to the Lakers in the semifinal round of the playoffs last season, rumors started to swirl that Kuminga was frustrated with his usage. Kerr made it clear that Kuminga must improve with rebounding in order to see a larger role on the court.
“Rebounding is a huge thing for JK,” Kerr said on May 16. “If he’s going to be a great player in this league, he’s got to rebound. A four-man with that kind of size and athleticism, that’s the next step, and continuing to work on all the things that he’s working on already, the shooting and the ball handling and the court vision, understanding what’s happening on the floor.
“It’s all going to get better because he’s so young and because he’s willing to work. You put all that together, and there’s no reason why he can’t come in and have a great season next year.”
With a third offseason under his belt, Kuminga is showing signs of the improvement the Warriors have been waiting for.
If he can crash the glass more consistently this season, the sky is the limit for the 21-year-old.