Jonathan Kuminga has had to wait his turn, and his patience finally is paying off this season.
The Warriors young, rising star forward has wowed the NBA world with his jaw-dropping athleticism and energetic spirit. But his role with the team admittedly has confused the 21-year-old after his playing time has fluctuated since Golden State drafted him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
In Year 3, though, his time seemingly has come — and he hasn’t let a single second of his opportunities go to waste. But having experienced the highs and lows already, Kuminga doesn’t want to get too excited with his increased role as he knows a single mistake can change everything.
“It feels great. Obviously, I’m still a little nervous because I’m still younger on the team where if you lose the ball sometimes, you might come out,” Kuminga told Bleacher Report’s NBA insider Chris Haynes. “Just deciding what I need to do and thinking faster and making faster plays.
“That’s the toughest part because now I have to learn how to play with Steph Curry, Klay [Thompson], Draymond [Green], [Andrew Wiggins].”
Kuminga grew frustrated after not being able to maintain a consistent role with Golden State during the 2022-23 campaign, and he reportedly was not happy with his position on the team.
He recorded three DNPs (Did Not Play) within the opening weeks of the season, and three in the Warriors’ early-exit playoff run.
Over the offseason and into the 2023-24 season, Warriors fans have questioned and even demanded that Kuminga see the court more. Meanwhile, the young forward kept his head down and stayed focused and ready for his number to be called.
And when it finally was, he’s been nothing short of impressive.
Kuminga is averaging a career-high 14.3 points on 53.1-percent shooting, with 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 23.4 minutes off the bench this season. He’s played in 41 of the Warriors’ 42 games thus far, and started 15 times.
His opportunity really arose with the suspension and extended absence of Draymond Green, in addition to the continued struggles of Andrew Wiggins.
The 6-foot-8 forward dropped a career-high 31 points on 63.2-percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range in Golden State’s loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, with three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 30 minutes.
He’s now scored 20 or more points in his last five games, averaging 25.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in that span.
“It’s been great,” Kuminga said. “I have Draymond every day helping me throughout the situation, telling me what I need to do. Helping me slow down a little bit. Obviously, in the summer, I had to go out there and just work because I knew what player I was. So I had to put a lot of work in every different type of aspect in basketball.
“And I feel like now it’s kind of showing. But there is a long journey ahead of me.”
There sure is, young fella.
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